Minutes of Evidence: John King
Thursday 5th December 1861.
Mr John King examined. [Principally by Murphy]
Q620. You were one of the original party that started with Mr Burke and Mr Wills from Melbourne ?-Yes.
Q621. You went the whole way with them to the Darling ?-Yes.
Q622. Were you in any particular charge of any portion of the expedition ?- Not until Mr Landells resigned.
Q623. Where did he resign ?-At the Darling.
Q624. You were in no charge till then ?-No.
Q625. Merely an ordinary working man with the rest ?-Yes, just so.
Q626. Had you any oversight of the stores in any way ?-None.
Q627. You arrived at the Darling all safe ?-All safe.
Q628. And the stores most-of them arrived there ?-I know of none of the stores left anywhere.
Q629. They mostly all arrived safe at the Darling ?-Yes.
Q630. There was sufficient as far as you could judge ?-Any amount of stores.
Q631. And the provisions appeared to be good ?-All except the dried meat.
Q632. That was damaged ?-That was damaged.
Q633. And transport sufficient-horses and camels sufficient ?-Yes.
Q634. You remained at the Darling a few days ?-Some few days; the horses arrived at the Darling-at Menindie-before the camels; Mr Burke went on with the horses in advance of the camels and left Mr Landells in command of the camels.
Q635. You were left with Mr Landells party ?-Yes.
Q636. When Mr Landells resigned you took charge of the camels ?-When Mr Landells resigned Mr Burke gave me charge of the camels.
Q637. You remained at the Darling two or three days ?-Yes.
Q638. And you were one of those who went on with Mr Burke ?-Yes.
Q639. Had you any previous knowledge of camel management ?-No, except what I obtained by coming out with Mr Landells from India.
Q640. You started with Mr Burke and Mr Wills to Cooper's Creek ?-Yes.
Q641. Do you remember the party ?-Yes: there was Mr Burke, Mr Wills, Brahe, Mr Patten, McDonough, Dost Mahommed, and myself,.
Q642. And Mr Wright, who joined at Menindie, went up with you a portion of the way ?-He joined at Menindie, and went as far as Torowoto.
Q643. About 200 miles ?-I do not know the exact distance.
Q644. With a couple of blacks ?-Yes, with two of the Darling blacks.
Q645. You. got there so far safe ?-Quite safe as far as there.
Q646. Mr Wright returned from there ?-Yes.
Q647. And you went on with the remainder of the party ?-Yes.
Q648. Did you know what were the arrangements Mr Burke made with Mr Wright at Torowoto. ?-No.
649. Did you hear him give him any instructions there ?-No. When Mr Wright was about leaving, Mr Burke fell all the party in. Mr Burke said he might have occasion to leave a few men behind in a few days, or perhaps have to leave them at Cooper's Creek, or at Eyre's Creek, according as he found the country, and that any man who did not choose to be under those orders might return with Mr Wright; and asked the men had they any desire to return, or were they satisfied to proceed on further; any man, he said, that chose to leave the party might accompany Mr Wright to the Darling.
Q650. No man took advantage of that ?-No.
Q651. They wished to go on ?-Yes.
Q652. Were they satisfied with the arrangements ?- Quite.
Q653. And you were fully armed, I suppose ?-Yes ; we all had a revolver each.
Q654. You did not hear Mr Burke give any instructions to Mr Wright ?-No.
Q655. Were you aware of the instructions ?-No.
Q656. Do you know he was appointed in charge of the party ?-I heard rumors amongst the members of the party.
Q657. At that time ?-At that time.
Q658. You did not know yourself that he had been appointed ?-No.
Q659. Had you any difficulty in getting from Torowoto to Cooper's Creek ?-None.
Q660. Not all the way ?-No, more than one evening we were at camp without water.
Q661. Had you no other difficulty ?-No other difficulty.
Q662. Did the horses and camels travel well ?-They travelled well.
Q663. You got to Cooper's Creek quite safely ?-Yes, quite safely; we had to leave one of the camels behind two days before we arrived at our first depot on Cooper's Creek.
Q664. Had you any conversation with Mr Burke as to his plans or intentions ?-No.
Q665. Did you know what his intentions were on reaching Cooper's Creek ?-No.
Q666. You did not hear him mention what instructions he had given to Mr Wright on the way up there ?-No, I did not.
Q667. What did you do when you got to Cooper's Creek, did you go on any of these expeditions with Mr Burke or Mr Wills ?-Yes; when Mr Burke made our first depot at the creek, Mr Burke, Mr Wills, and McDonough started one morning to try and find water some distance to the north, Mr Burke seemed not to be well, and returned after going a mile or so, and so McDonough and Mr Wills continued, and were away some few days; I do not know the exact number of days; they lost the camels (three in number) and had to return to the depot on foot.
Q668. After a few days ?-Yes; after a few days.
Q669. Did you go out yourself on that expedition ?-Not then; a few days after Mr Burke, Mr Wills, and myself went to a distance of about seventy miles north; we could not find water; Mr Wills found water when he and McDonough went before.
Q670. Did you go the same track as they did ?-Yes; but I do not know how Mr Wills could not find it, he seemed not to recognize the place he had to return.
Q671. Did you lose any horses or camels then ?-None; we just rested, and Mr Wills and myself went the third time, and found the water a distance of about ninety miles to the north, and we also had to bring the camel saddles, the riding saddles, which Mr Burke intended to take with him across the continent.
Q672. Did Mr Wills satisfy himself he could not find water across in that direction ?-Yes; there was no vegetation; he got into the stony desert.
Q673. Was it a level country ?-Quite level; the ranges were to the east.
Q674. Were you far from the ranges ?-Two or three miles.
Q675. You were on the slope at the foot of them ?-Yes.
Q676. Was there a great level to the west ?-It was a mass of stones.
Q677. And little vegetation ?-Very little.
Q678. Any trees ?-None.
Q679. No animals or birds ?-None, except at the waterholes.
Q680. Was it surface water ?-No, water channels.
Q681. Coming from the mountains ?-Yes; the water was quite brackish.
Q682. Was it camels or horses you were travelling with ?-Camels.
Q683. Did they travel well over the stony ground ?-Yes, we took two of the riding camels.
Q684. You made your way back ?-Yes.
Q685. And met the depot party ?-Yes.
Q686. That was the last depot ?-Yes; during our absence Mr Burke shifted.
Q687. Did you remain there long?-We remained there some few days, as Mr Burke was making preparation for our start during our absence.
Q688. Did you know at all what his intentions were ?-I knew that he intended to take four men with him.
Q689. Did he announce it to you ?-Yes.
Q690. When you came back ?-I knew I was going with him.
Q691. He had not announced it to you before ?-No.
Q692. Then when you returned back, Mr Burke informed you of his intention to take four of the party on to the Gulf of Carpentaria ?-Yes; and he told me I was to go with the camels.
Q693. Did he say what further was his intention with respect to the rest of the party ?-Not then; but the morning we were about to start from the depot, Mr Burke fell us all in and told Mr Brahe, that he appointed him as officer in charge of the depot till Mr Wright arrived, as he then expected Mr Wright daily.
Q694. Was that the first time you had heard Mr Burke express himself in that way, that he expected Mr Wright ? -The first time I heard him express himself; though I heard it rumored in the camp Mr Wright was expected up.
Q695. Did you hear Mr Burke give Mr Brahe any instructions as to what he was to do ?-None.
Q696. Then he told you when he drew you up on that last day before you started, that Mr Brahe was to be left in charge of the depot camp, and that Mr Wright was expected up in a very short time ?-Yes.
Q697. Did he mention the time ?-He said in a few days. He then shook hands with the different men, and when shaking hands with Patten, Patten, who was very fond of Mr Burke, was shedding tears; he was disappointed in not being one of the party going with Mr Burke, and Mr Burke shook hands with him, at the same time telling him "Patten," he said "you must not fret, I shall be back in a short time; if I am not back in a few months, you may go away to the Darling."
Q698. He made use of that expression ?-Yes.
Q699. That was in conversation only that you overheard with Patten ?-Yes; the men were dismissed before that; whatever instructions Mr Brahe had received, it was the previous day, or the day before.
Q700. Were the party all in good health at that time ?-All in excellent health.
Q701. There was no complaining?-No complaining; all were in good spirits.
Q702. The provisions you had were good and plentiful ?-All except the dried meat; the dried meat we got at the Darling; we took a quantity forward. At Cooper's Creek we killed one horse, and after drying the meat, another horse broke his leg, and Mr Burke shot it and dried the meat.
Q703. There were none of the party complaining of illness ?-None.
Q704. You went on with Mr Burke, Mr Wills, and Mr Gray ?-Yes.
Q705. And you took six camels ?-Six camels and one horse.
Q706. And about what quantity of provisions ?-I believe twelve weeks' provisions.
Q707. There was a quantity left behind ?-There was a considerable quantity left behind.
Q708. As much as you took on ?-Or more. There were over twelve bags of flour, with 50 lbs. or 51 lbs. to 52 1bs. in each bag, left at the depot; a considerable quantity of sugar and meat biscuits I took from the Darling, a quantity of sugar for the camels, and a quantity of about 500 lbs. oatmeal, but they received very little of the sugar as it was only a few days before leaving the depot I gave them any sugar and oatmeal
Q709. There was a much larger quantity of provisions left behind at the depot than you took on with you-and you took on twelve week's provisions ?-Yes; we took 300 lbs. of flour with us and 110 lbs. of dried meat, some 40 or 50 lbs. of sugar, 90 lbs. of pork, and 12 lbs. of tea, 5 lbs. of salt, and a few tins of preserved vegetables, two tins, one of ghee, and meat biscuits 30 lbs.
Q710. Had you any spirits of any kind ?-There were none at all taken from the Darling.
Q711. Was the pork good ?-Beautiful.
Q712. What about the clothing, was there plenty of clothing ?-Yes, we took some trousers from the depot with us, each person took as much as he thought he required.
Q713. There was no stint ?-No, there was plenty, and we left some at the depot.
Q714. And you took arms and ammunition with you ?-Yes, two rifles and two guns, each with a revolver.
Q715. Did you ever hear Mr Burke express a hope or expectation that he would meet a ship or assistance at the Gulf of Carpentaria ?-No, we did not expect such.
Q716. The cattle did not appear to be overloaded ?-No.
Q717. They had light loads ?-Yes, until such time as we had to commence carrying water.
Q718. The cattle were not overloaded at the time you started from the creek ?-No, they were not.
Q719. Were they able to carry much more than they did ?-Yes.
Q720. Was there any reason why they did not ?-No.
Q721. You said something about carrying water; was that the reason for loading them with light loads ?-No.
Q722. In fact Mr Burke did not intend to take more than three months' provisions ?-Just so.
Q723. And he could have taken more if he had liked ?-Yes.
Q724. On the same beasts of burden ?-Yes. The average they will carry is 250 lbs. each I believe.
Q725. You left the depot then ?-Yes.
Q726. And Mr Brahe accompanied you part of the way ?-As far as the first camp. He dined with us that evening, and when he was returning home to the depot he said "Good-bye King, I do not expect to see you for at least four months."
Q727. He made use of that expression ?-Yes.
Q728. That was the evening he was leaving ?-The evening he left us.
Q729. You went on then upon the creek for some distance ?-We traced the creek some two days I think.
Q730. How did you travel, on foot or how ?-We rode a short distance tracing down the creek, and after leaving the creek we walked.
Q731. How long did you stick to the creek ?-Two or three days after Mr Brahe leaving us.
Q732. Then having left the creek you travelled on foot ?-Yes.
Q733. How did you regulate your daily proceedings; was there any particular order; or, had you any particular charge of anything apportioned among the men ?-I had to lead the six camels, and Gray had to lead the horse; Mr Burke and Mr Wills were walking ahead.
Q734. Was there any relative quantity of rations given out every day ?-Yes.
Q735. Who arranged that ? -Mr Burke
Q736. Was it sufficient ?-Quite sufficient. Our daily provisions were one pound of damper, three quarters of a pound of dried meat, and a quarter of a pound of pork, and every other day Mr Burke would allow some pound or pound and a-half of rice to be boiled, to be divided among the four.
Q737. At that rate it was calculated that you were to make the rations last three months ?-Yes.
Q738. Did you say Mr Burke and Mr Wills generally went a-head on foot ?-Yes, on foot.
Q739. And you on foot leading the camels, and Gray leading the horse ?-Yes.
Q740. What was the horse laden with ?-Water, when we had to carry water; Gray riding when ill, as he often complained.
Q741. I suppose they were going by compass ?-Yes.
Q742. And observation ?-Yes, Mr Wills took his observations very regularly.
Q743. And carried the compass ?-He carried the compass; Mr Burke used to relieve Mr Wills in steering when he got tired.
Q744. Did they jot down their notes every day ?-Yes; Mr Wills was generally engaged some hour and a half after coming into camp.
Q745. In jotting down his notes ?-Yes, the occurrences of the day.
Q746. Did Mr Burke take any notes-did you see ?-Very seldom.
Q747. Did he carry no books with him ?-Yes.
Q748. And he did sometimes note things down ?-Yes.
Q749. It was not a constant practice with him ?-No.
Q750. He used not every evening ?-No.
Q751. Had you tents ?-None.
Q752.You camped out ?-Yes.
Q753. Were the cattle hobbled ?-The camels were always hobbled.
Q754. Had you much difficulty after leaving the creek in getting grass and water in going up ?-None.
Q755. You did not come across that stony desert again after leaving the creek ?-Some few days after leaving the creek we came on it.
Q756. Far to the west of where you were before, as far as you knew ?-Considerably to the westward.
Q757. Was it of the same character there ?-The stones were not so large on the surface.
Q758. The other characteristics of the country were the same ?-Yes.
Q759. Barren and stony ?-Barren and stony.
Q760. The ranges were not near that ?-No.
Q761. Were they in sight ?-We could just see them to the south. Just see them to the south-east-small rises.
Q762. It was not to any great extent the stony desert ?-No, it took us a day and a part of a second to cross it.
Q763. What distance did you travel a day when you first started ?-When we first started we travelled sometimes twelve miles and sometimes fifteen miles, according to the feed for the animals.
Q764. And according to where you got a good halting place ?-Mr Burke was always particular in selecting a good halting place for the camels to feed.
Q765. Did Mr Burke precede the party for some miles to look out for a good country ?-No; he was not able to do so, with walking.
Q766. It is stated in the journal, that about Christmas day, on leaving you were in fine country with a large quantity of water ?-The 25th of December.
Q767. Was it a fine country ?-No, the country reaching out to the view was mud plains.
Q768. There was some good grass upon it ?-Yes, on the banks of the creek plenty salt bush.
Q769. And permanent water ?-Quite permanent; some waterholes extended seven or eight miles in length.,
Q770. Did you make any halt in the way across of any days to rest the cattle ?-We halted on Christmas eve off Gray's Creek.
Q771. How long ?-On the 23rd we came to a water-channel; as we were travelling then by night, Mr Burke thought that he would remain there till morning and examine the country for water, so we halted the following morning, and despatched Gray on horseback in the direction of some timber and sandhills to the east, and he came back and said he had found water; and Mr Burke went to the distance of about three and a half miles from where we camped the over night, and halted there the remainder of the day.
Q772. Then did you start again the next morning ?-Yes.
Q773. At what hour generally did you start in the morning ?-The time varied, the general time was about five or about half-past four, we always started before breakfast; I believe that once or twice we had breakfast before starting.
Q774. And you sometimes travelled by night you say ?-Yes.
Q775. Occasionally by night ?-Occasionally in passing over the stony deserts; in good country we generally travelled by day.
Q776. In going across you had no difficulty in getting grass or water ?-No great difficulty except in the stony deserts.
Q777. How long did you travel before breakfast ?-An hour or an hour and a-half.
Q778. And camped how long ?-About half an hour.
Q779. And then started ?-Yes, and then started.
Q780. How long did you travel ?-The first period of our travelling we generally halted for dinner for another hour or hour and a-half or two hours, also for the purpose of giving the camels time to feed, and then another start and camped about five in the evening.
Q781. You were generally engaged from five in the morning till five in the evening except those meal hours ?-Yes.
Q782. And did you make any great spells for the cattle, did you rest two or three days at any one place ?-No.
Q783. You went on every day more or less ?-Yes.
Q784. You did not suffer from want of water at all in going across, or did you suffer from want of water ?-No we had plenty of water for our own use by carrying it.
Q785. And the camels ?-They did not seem to require much water; the horse we gave two buckets a day to.
Q786. And you had no difficulty in that respect all the way across ?-All the way.
Q787. So that you were never in want of water all the way across at all ?-We were never pushed for water; we had eight pints a day each; that was our allowance when we used not to camp at water.
Q788. You did not suffer for want of grass ?-No, except on those plains and stony deserts.
Q789. When did the provisions get short-before you got across ?-No; there was no reduction till our return.
Q790. Did you generally carry water so that you could camp anywhere you chose ?-Until such time as we entered the tropics, then we always had a little water for our own use.
Q791. In case you should not find it ?-Yes.
Q792. Did you always choose your camp where you came upon good feed ?-Yes.
Q793. Were you ever put on short rations ?-Not in going across; I believe the average allowance of flour then was five pounds a week, which was quite sufficient for each man.
Q794. Was there any stock lost on the way over ?-When we were getting convenient to the Gulf, about eight days' march off the Gulf, one of the camels got into the bed of a creek, and could not get out.
Q795. Was there any of the other stock lost ?-No; they were all in good condition, but leg weary.
Q796. Were any of the men suffering from ill health then ?-Gray complained of severe headaches during the trip across.
Q797. Was there any particular reason for that ?-None that I am aware of.
Q798. Did you get anything to supplement your provisions on the way-any game ?-A few ducks; the game was very shy.
Q799. You saw game ?-We saw lots of game-kangaroos, emeus, ducks, and other birds; turkey also very numerous.
Q800. All the way ?-All the way right through.
Q801. You had not time to go after them to supplement, the food ?-No; we were continually pushing forward, even in the midst of the stony deserts, when without water. We could see flocks of pigeons, crows, and hawks flying to the east and west of us, so that we knew there was water convenient to us, but having sufficient for use, we kept our course.
Q802. And the country looked of the same description on either hand as you went along to what you were travelling over ?-Yes.
Q803. Were there ranges occasionally ?-We saw some high ranges in the north, commencing at 96 camp.
Q804. There was some difficulty, was there not, to get through ?-Very great difficulty.
Q805. In a portion of Mr Burke's remarks, there is some observation made about pushing the camels through some difficult hill or range; do you recollect anything of that nature ?-Yes; the first morning we struck Cloncurry Creek, Mr Wills mentioned that we had to descend 400 feet into the creek.
Q806. Was it very scrubby and precipitous ?-Very irregular; it was in the ranges; the water of the creek was just forming; it was the head of the creek. Mr Wills has not mentioned anything about the ranges in his diary.
Q807. The observations referred to are in a few remarks of Mr Burke that have been printed from a portion of his notes; he speaks of a range where he had to rush the camels through-they were sweating with fear ?-I recollect the place he mentioned; it was at Turner's Creek.
Q808. When you were nearing the Gulf, you did not hear Mr Burke express an expectation of getting relief there ?-No.
Q809. Neither by land nor water ?-No.
Q810. Did you ever hear that there was amongst the party an expectation of that kind ?-No. Before Professor Neumayer left, McDonough and myself were in the tent next to Mr Burke's, and McDonough heard some conversation between Professor Neumayer, Mr Burke, and Mr Wills concerning a vessel; but it seemed Mr Burke did not require a vessel, and would not give his sanction to it.
Q811. Then you had no expectation of that kind ?-None.
Q812. You did not expect any relief there ?-No; had we expected any assistance we would have crossed the River Albert to the west side, and make the sea. It was quite impossible for us to make the sea on the east side, as the country was all under water; had we crossed the river and gone to the west side, there would have been no difficulty in reaching the sea; but as our provisions were then getting so exhausted we were unable to do so. Mr Burke thought he had quite fulfilled his task; we had the tide flowing, rising and falling to the extent of eight inches, and the water was quite salty.
Q813. How much further would you have had to go to see the sea ?-I cannot judge of that.
Q814. You have no idea ?-None.
Q815. The water was salt ?- Quite salt.
Q816. Who first made the discovery of reaching the sea, or did you all come upon it reaching the salt water where the tide was ?Mr Wills knew it; he had told us two or three days before we reached the salt water that we were in the country that had been discovered by Mr Gregory and other previous explorers.
Q817. Some days before you got upon it he told you that ?-Yes, and showed us on the chart the supposed place where Mr Gregory crossed this small creek.
Q818. Did Mr Wills consider he was on the Albert river ?-Yes.
Q819. The provisions from the time you had been gone were short for returning ? -Yes, very short.
Q820. Had you any consultation as to what you would do because the provisions would not take you back ?-No, none; though I believe Mr Burke intended to kill the camels.
Q821. But you did not hear him say what his plan was in the event of the provisions running out ?-No.
Q822. You took longer going over than you expected ?Mr Burke thought of doing it in six weeks.
Q823. And you took about two months going there ?-About that. I often heard Burke express himself, saying we would have no difficulty in getting buffaloes, and wild pigs, and such things on the coast, but we never saw anything of the kind; the only things we saw were turkeys, emeus, kangaroos, and many sea birds.
Q824. What sort of country was it before you arrived at the creek or the Albert ?-Extensive grassy undulating plains.
Q825. Was there much timber ?-There was very little; what there was in groups.
Q826. Fresh water ? -Yes, fresh water in the creeks and waterholes on the plains.
Q827. Plenty ?-Plenty.
Q828. And you say you saw, in the nature of game, kangaroos and other things ?-Yes; kangaroos, emeus, and any quantity of ducks and pelicans too; also, turkeys were numerous.
Q829. As you approached the river the country became very flat ?-Yes.
Q830. And bogged, as if inundated ?-Yes.
Q831. There could be no doubt about the flow of the tide ?-None whatever.
Q832. How did you ascertain that ?-There were some rocks in the bed of the river; on the east side there were some large rocks in the water, and we could see that those rocks were covered when the tide was up, and when it went down we could see the rocks.
Q833. You did not hear the sound of the sea ?-No.
Q834. Nor any sound similar to it ?-No.
Q835. Did you meet any blacks there ?-Not me, nor Gray did not; Mr Wills and Mr Burke, I believe, saw some few farther north.
Q836. Did you meet any on the way over ?-Yes, several.
Q837. Large tribes ?-Not very large.
Q838. How did they receive you ?-They were quite astonished at seeing us; they followed us a certain distance; they looked after us; they had their spears and boomerangs, and slings.
Q839. Did they use slings ?-Yes.
Q840. To throw stones with ?-Yes; I saw them using them on King's Creek.
Q841. Did they molest you ?-Never.
Q842. They came close ?-Yes.
Q843. Quite close ?-Yes.
Q844. Nor did they molest the animals ?-No; not except on Cooper's Creek.
Q845. Did Mr Burke go farther north than you ?-Fifteen miles.
Q846. Did he go alone ?- With Mr Wills.
Q847. You heard from them that they saw blacks there ?- I heard Mr Burke say he saw several native camps.
Q848. Mr Burke and Mr Wills made an effort, to see the sea ?- Mr Burke and Mr Wills did not climb any trees that I am aware of, neither did I hear them say so; and the others did not.
Q849. You remained with the camp ?-Yes, and five camels. Mr Burke and Mr Wills took the horse with them.
Q850. There could have been only five camels, as you say you left one behind ?-Five camels.
Q851. Were they in good condition ?-Yes; but leg weary.
Q852. How long did you remain there ?-Three days, when Mr Burke left myself and Gray at Camp 119; he and Mr Wills left on the 9th, and returned on the 12th.
Q853. Did he return in that time ?-Yes.
Q854. What did he say ?-He told us to get ready for the return start; that he had accomplished his task as far as it was necessary; and that, though he could not get a view of the open ocean, he was sure that the committee would be quite satisfied with what he had done.
Q855. Had he gone fifteen miles down the river ?-They went down the river but did not keep the course of the river exactly.
Q856. Did he see the river again fifteen miles lower down ?-I could not say.
Q857. The country was flooded ?-It was under water where they were.
Q858. But where you were ?-No, it was boggy; it was raining while we were camped there, continual showers coming from the North.
Q859. Did Mr Burke say anything about the propriety of going to Queensland ?-I never heard him mention anything of the kind.
Q860. You never heard him speak of going any other way ?-No; we could not have a better track, so that we had no occasion to do so. Had he expected to do so I should have heard him mention it.
Q861. You say he came back and desired you to prepare for the start back ?-Yes.
Q862. What marks did you leave ?-There were some small box trees; we cut the bark eighteen inches by four and cut the letter B in the trees, some fifteen trees were marked.
Q863. No date ?-No.
Q864. Was that at the camp where you and Gray were ?-Yes.
Q865. Did Mr Burke say he had marked any trees where they were ?-I believe not: he took no knives or implements to do so.
Q866. Were there any stones there to make any cairns ?-There were some rocks.
Q867. You did not build any cairns ?-No.
Q868. You did not hear him say he built any ?-No; they made a small plant there at their Camp 119, and left a note and left a few articles there.
Q869. What were the articles they left there ?-A few camel pads and the camp oven, and a few other small articles, and a lot of books-a considerable quantity of books.
Q870. Books you had used for your amusement ?-Yes.
Q871. No memorandum books ?-None; left an expedition form.
Q872. Then the camels were in good working order then ?-All in good working order but leg weary.
Q873. They wanted a spell ?-If they had remained there a fortnight or three weeks we might then have returned with them with ease and safety, but our provisions would not admit that.
Q874. Did you return the next morning after Mr Burke and Mr Wills returned ?-Yes, the next morning, 13th February.
Q875. What was the difficulty in getting back, did you turn upon your own track ?-We turned upon our own track; the weather was very wet, it had been raining continually, and the camels were up to their knees in mud. The first few days after starting we could not travel more than four or five miles a day in consequence of the wet.
Q876. Was it raining heavily ?-Very heavily.
Q877. Was it windy ?-No, it was not windy.
Q878. The rain came straight down ?-There were ten or twelve showers during the day,-between these showers the sun shining powerfully.
Q879. Was it hot ?-No, not hot. Mr Wills supposed the showers came from the sea.
Q880. Was the wind northerly ?-Yes.
Q881. As if it came from the sea ?-Yes.
Q882. Then the difficulties you had at first were, the swampy nature of the ground and the great rain ?-Yes.
Q883. How long did that continue ?-Some four days, I believe.
Q884. You picked up the camel ?-Yes, on our return.
Q885. Were you not able to bring him along ?-We brought him a short distance. It was Mr Wills who found the camel and brought him to our camp. I saddled him and put a light swag on him and brought him some distance on our return, but he was unable to keep up with us, so we took the saddle off and let him loose.
Q886. Do you think he has survived ?-I have no doubt he would make his way to some of the settled districts: we knew that any party that went there would be sure to pick him up.
Q887. Was the camel in flesh when you turned him loose ?-No.
Q888. Did you attempt to kill any game during the three days you were at the river to help out the provisions ?-No; I was with camels at feed, and Gray keeping camp.
Q889. Did you try to fish ?-We caught a few fish there.
Q890. But you did not succeed in getting any game ?-No.
Q891. Did you try ?-Yes, myself and Gray, during Mr Burke's and Mr Wills' absence, tried, and could get nothing but crows and hawks. During the time Mr Burke and Mr Wills were with us we did not try, being too busy.
Q892. The blacks never visited your camp ?-No.
Q893. When did the provisions begin to fail, that you were put on short allowance in returning; had you gone a fortnight or three weeks before you began to be obliged to be put on short allowance ?-Immediately after starting our provisions were considerably reduced.
Q894. That was when starting on your way back ?-Yes, returning.
Q895. Then you were reduced in your allowance ?-Yes.
Q896. Did your allowance become less as you proceeded on your return ?-Some days after starting our provisions were considerably reduced, till such time as we crossed the ranges.
Q897. How far may that have been from the river, do you suppose; how may days' journey ?-We were within seventeen days' of where the animals had had difficulty in getting through.
Q898. When they were going up ?-Yes.
Q899. And about that time the provisions began to get short ?-Very short.
Q900. And the allowance was on a very small scale to match ?-On a very small scale, our principle rations were the portulac.
Q901. Which is a kind of vegetable ?-Yes, a kind of vegetable.
Q902. A leafy vegetable ?-Very leafy.
Q903. Did you kill anything then ?-A few days after returning we killed a camel.
Q904. Where was it that you began to suffer first ?-Shortly after starting back.
Q905. Who began to suffer first ?-Gray was the first that suffered.
Q906. What did he complain of ?-The headache and pains in his legs and back.
Q907. Were you coming back the same way as you went then ?-Two were walking and two riding.
Q908. On the way back ?-Yes.
Q909. Was there any reason for doing so ?-We did so to spare the camels.
Q910. Gray you say was the first to complain ?-Gray was the first to complain; Mr Wills did not seem to feel to be the least affected by being on short rations.
Q911. Did Mr Gray get gradually worse ?-Gradually worse, as far as Mr Wills understood; he pretended to be a sort of doctor amongst us when any one felt ill, and he always gave medicine for any illness, and he said he thought the man's constitution was gone through drink, as he had lived in a public house at Swan Hill, and I have heard since he had drunk very heavily there.
Q912. You had medicines with you ?-Yes.
Q913. Had you any acids or any anti-scorbutics ?-Yes; Mr Wills had some medicines.
Q914. And Mr Wills gave some medicines to Gray ?-Yes.
Q915. But Gray got gradually worse ?-Yes.
Q916. Did any others complain ?-I was the next who complained; I had very severe pains in the legs and back.
Q917. What do you attribute it to, to the walking ?-The walking and the short provisions.
Q918. What rations were you put on, what were the shortest ?-The shortest was a quarter of a pound of flour, and ten sticks of dried meat, and as much portulac as we chose to gather; we were upon that for a month.
Q919. Was that daily ?-Daily.
Q920. A quarter of a pound of flour, ten sticks of dried meat, and as much portulac as you could gather ?-Yes.
Q921. How did you cook the vegetable ?-Boiled it.
Q922. With meat ?-No, simply boiled it, we boiled the meat separate and made soup of it.
Q923. The dried camel meat ?-Yes.
Q924. Did you make the same distances returning ?-About the same distances, a few days after starting, when we got good weather.
Q925. You did not spell the cattle at all in coming back, you had not time to do that ?-No, we had not time to do that.
Q926. You had no want of water or grass when you were coming back ?-None.
Q927. The water had not dried up in the meantime ?-No, we found sufficient water.
Q928. In fact there was no change in the appearance of the country ?-It was rather drier than when we passed through, that was the only change I noticed.
Q929. You would not require to carry water then ?-No, we knew that we should have water at our camps.
Q930. That was to save the camels ?-Yes.
Q931. Gray was unable to walk ?-We had to strap him on a camel several days previous to his death.
Q932. What did he principally complain of?-The pains in his limbs and back.
Q933. Did he suffer from dysentery ?-No.
Q934. Did any of you suffer from dysentery ?-No, he complained of it, but it was found out he was not suffering from it. Mr Wills examined his stools-several of Gray's-and said it was not dysentery he was suffering from.
Q935. You did not know it yourself ?-No.
Q936. There is a remark in one of the journals that have been brought back, of Gray taking some of the stores without leave; do you know anything of that ?-Yes; it was the first time after crossing the ranges we struck our old track. In the ranges we did not keep the same track but avoided the most difficult parts in returning. I believe the first time we struck our old track on the return Mr Wills was going to a camp we had left, we had only travelled a few miles that morning, and Mr Wills, returned for a ramrod he had left in our old camp, and on his way out he saw this man, Gray, sitting under a tree, with some porridge made of flour, and he questioned him about it, and asked him if he had permission to take it; he said he had not, but as he was suffering from dysentery he took it, as he thought it a benefit, and Mr Wills said if he did not go and acknowledge it to Mr Burke, ho would do so on his return; and Mr Wills called me and told me the same, and told me, if possibly I could, to urge this man, Gray, to make some acknowledgment of it to Mr Burke before Mr Wills returned, as he knew that if he (Mr Wills) was to acquaint Mr Burke with it, he (Mr Burke) would be much more severe on Gray than if he acknowledged it, but Gray would not do it.
Q937. Mr Burke was in camp ?-Yes, at that time. Gray requested me that I should do it, as I knew the nature of the case, and I did it. I told Mr Burke that Mr Wills had found Gray sitting under a tree, some distance from our camp, eating this porridge.
Q938. Cooked ?-Yes, cooked-some flour boiled; and Mr Burke called him, and asked him what he meant by stealing the stores, and asked him if he did not receive an equal share of the rations, which of course he could not deny; Mr Burke then gave him several boxes on the ear with his open hand, and not a sound thrashing, as Mr Wills states; Mr Wills was at the other camp at the time, and it was all over when he returned. Mr Burke may have given him six or seven slaps on the ear.
Q939. Mr Burke was not in the habit of striking the men ?-No; it was the first time I ever knew him to do so.
Q940. The whole party were on very good terms, were they not ?-On very good terms; they were very social.
Q941. Even after that ?-Even after that, though he abused him at the time.
Q942. Scolded him ?-Yes, scolded him.
Q943. When it was over no more was said about it ?-Just so.
Q944. There is a remark in one portion of the journals to the effect that they had thought he was shamming; was that the impression ?Mr Wills thought so; it was he who first caused the opinion to exist amongst us. He did not understand Gray complaining so soon, as the other three of us did not seem to suffer, except from weakness; but he found it out afterwards.
Q945. At the time you did not think he was so ill as he said he was ?-We did not.
Q946. Were the rest of you in good health then ?-Yes, except very weak, at that time; shortly after he commenced to complain, though he had complained several times on his way before.
Q947. Do you think much of the provisions were lost in that way ?-A considerable quantity of flour; he was in charge of the stores both going, and coming, until such time as he was found stealing.
Q948. Do you think he helped himself in that way ?-I think so; he acknowledged to have done so.
Q949. Then the charge of the stores was taken from him ?-Yes, and given to me.
Q950. Did he seem to get worse after that ?-Not for some time.
Q951. When did this occur-about the fifteenth day on the return journey ?-More than that.
Q952. Were the rations equal to all parties-that is, to the leaders as well as the rest of the men ?-Just the same. I may as well state the way they were issued: Mr Burke used to divide the rations; we had four plates, and he put equal shares on each plate, and covered the plates with his handkerchief or a towel and made us face from the plates, and then he requested us to call a number - one, or two, or three, or four, so that no person could be favored with a larger quantity than the others.
Q953. Then there was no ground of complaint at all that anybody had more than another ? -No.
Q954. The provisions were all fairly distributed ?-Yes.
Q955. And they gradually became less and less ?-Yes; I should think so.
Q956. Until at length they ceased altogether, so far as the provisions you carried went ?-Except the dried meat.
Q957. It was not before that that poor Gray died, was it ?-No, Gray died the day before we struck the creek, some fifteen miles from the creek, and by it about seventy miles from the depot.
Q958. It was before he got so very bad that your provisions had altogether run out ?-Yes, except the dried meat.
Q959. And you had reduced the camels down to one ?-Down to two.
Q960. And those were scarcely able to travel ?-It was as much as they could do to get along.
Q961. Was there any load upon them ?-None, except the dried meat.
Q962. Had you left all the things they were carrying behind ?-All, except a spade, a shovel, a billy, and a few camel pads which we had for bedding.
Q963. Did you leave the instruments belonging to Mr Wills ?-He buried his instruments where we left the last camel, about fourteen days before reaching the creek.
Q964. Were there marks on all the camps, backwards and forwards ?-The principal camps were marked with the letter B on several trees at each camp.
Q965. Were they numbered ?-No, some few were. The principal camps only were numbered.
Q966. In going ?-In going: none returning.
Q967. Did you leave your blankets and clothes behind ?-Yes.
Q968. Was Gray carried on one of the two camels ?-Yes.
Q969. How long for ?-Some seven days.
Q970. In that journey coming back did you hear what Mr Burke's expectations were on reaching the creek, and whom he would be likely to meet there ?-Yes.
Q971. What views did he entertain with respect to that ?-We expected to find those we had left there and also the party from town; I heard Mr Burke speak continually about the party coming up to survey the country convenient to Cooper's Creek; he said he was sure of assistance coming up from town on account of his repeating it so often to the committee that, under any circumstances, we should be followed up, and he had no doubt, until we saw our disappointment at the creek, but that there would be a party there.
Q972. Wright's party ?-Yes, he expected Mr Wright.
Q973. That was the party he meant ?-Yes, and he expected a surveyor from town at the time as well.
Q974. Did you ever hear Mr Burke say he expected Brahe to follow on from Cooper's Creek on Wright's coming up there ?-I never heard Mr Burke say so; but Mr Brahe told me before he left us, that he expected to follow us, if Mr Wright came within a few days; and Gray was to return; but I never heard Mr Burke or Mr Wills say so.
Q975. Poor Gray at last became too bad to travel further, did he not ?-He travelled the evening before his death some seven miles, tied on a camel; then we camped at Polygonum Swamp, and he got very bad that night, and could scarcely speak; we covered him up, and made him as comfortable as possible, and remained there with him, and the following morning we found him dead.
Q976. Did he say anything before he died ?-Some days previously he requested Mr Wills to inform Mr Foster of his death, and to ask Mr Foster to get his effects given to his parents.
Q977. He did not send anything back ?-No.
Q978. After he became so ill as not to be able to walk, he received every attention ?-Every attention that it was possible to show him.
Q979. And he died in the night ?-He died in the night; we found him dead as soon as we awoke in the morning.
Q980. And you buried him ?-We remained that day to bury him.
Q981. What was the state of yourself and the others ?-We were extremely weak; it was as much as we could do to dig the grave.
Q982. Did you bury him in his clothing ?-Yes.
Q983. What had he on ?-A pair of flannel trousers, a flannel shirt with short sleeves.
Q984. A guernsey ?-A flannel shirt and a wide-awake hat.
Q985. Did you leave anything at the camp there ?-Yes, we threw away some of the camel pads that were stuffed with horse-hair, and a tin pot, and some other articles. We put them in a bag, and hung it on the branch of a tree, and a rifle we put in the hollow trunk of a tree, intending to return for them in a few days from the depot.
Q986. Was that near a lake of water ?-Two miles and a-half off; we had breakfast at that lake after starting.
Q987. From what ?-A large lake.
Q988. Did you read the account of what Mr McKinlay had discovered ?-Yes; I think that it was the remains of Gray he found.
Q989. Were there any marks on Gray ?-None that I know of, but being a sailor he might have had some scars.
Q990. You feel satisfied in your own mind it is Gray's remains he found ?-I believe so.
Q991. There is here a telegram from Adelaide in which the writer says the bodies found by Mr McKinlay were discovered forty-five miles to the west, north-west of Mr Wills's grave-do you think it was that distance from where Mr Wills died ?-It was full that distance from where Mr Wills died.
Q992. It says bodies ?-I cannot account for it in any other way.
Q993. How many days' journey before you got to Cooper's Creek did you take to get there from the time Gray died ?-It was one day's journey, it was within fifteen miles of Cooper's Creek.
Q994. So that if you arrived there on the 21st, Gray must have died on the 19th, because you say you remained one day to bury him ?-It was the 16th or 17th he died. We took five days to travel the distance to the depot.
Q995. Were there any provisions except dried meat when you arrived at Cooper's Creek ?-None, nor had there been any for fifteen days; and the day previous to our arrival at the depot we were allowed to consume as much dried meat as we chose, on the expectation of finding the provisions and parties there, so that we only brought a pound of the dried meat to the depot.
Q996. Had you not stopped to bury Gray you would have been there before Brahe left ?-We should have been there all right.
Q997. You had two camels with you when you returned ?-Two camels.
Q998. You were exceedingly weak ?-Very weak.
Q999. So that you were only able to make very short distances in a day ?-It was as much as any of us were able to crawl to the creek for a billy of water.
Q1000. However, you recovered ?-I recovered very rapidly after getting a few days' better provisions.
Q1001. How long had you been in that very weak state do you remember before you arrived at Cooper's Creek-how long had you been so very weak that you were not able to make the distance in a day ?-For about ten days we were extremely weak.
Q1002. All equally so ?-All nearly so.
Q1003. Were any worse than the others ?-I seemed worse than Mr Burke or Mr Wills; but after getting those rations that were left at the depot I improved much better than either of the other two.
Q1004. You arrived at the depot on the 21st ?-Yes.
Q1005. And you had no difficulty in finding the provisions there ?-No difficulty; we arrived there about half-past seven in the evening; it was moonlight; we pushed in thirty miles that day.
Q1006. Did you walk ?-We rode; Mr Burke rode one of the camels, and I and Mr Wills rode the other.
Q1007. Had you firearms then ?-Yes, our revolvers.
Q1008. Had you shot also ?-Yes, we had shot and powder.
Q1009. Had you fired them off anytime before you arrived ?-Yes, we were continually shooting crows and hawks; we shot some that day for dinner and cooked and ate them.
Q1010. When you arrived at the depot what observations or conversation took place ?-When we arrived at the depot Mr Burke was a little ahead of Mr Wills and myself. He had often said, "I think I see their tents a-head;" he made several remarks like that till we arrived there, when he cooed several times out the names of the men (Brahe, McDonough, and Patten); then he said, "I suppose they have shifted to some other part of the creek." Mr Wills also thought they had shifted for better feed to some other part of the creek. Mr Wills was the first who saw the tree marked, and saw the horse or camel's dung and the things scattered about the stockade, and we knew then that if they had shifted to any other part they would have taken the things with them there. Then Mr Wills saw the mark on the tree, "dig three feet north- west or north-east," I am not sure which, and the date they left the depot was the same date as we arrived. Mr Wills said, "they have left here to-day." He said, "if they had shifted to any other part of the creek they would not have marked that."
Q1011. What did he express as being the best to do then ?-We then began to dig up the plant as we knew they would leave some instructions. Mr Burke was too much excited to do anything. Mr Wills was not so, and we dug the plant up and I got the bottle; Mr Burke said whatever instructions there were would be in that bottle, and I broke it and handed the note to Mr Burke, and he read it, informing us that the depot party was in good condition except one man, Patten, who was suffering from the kick of a horse; that the animals were all in good working order, and on account of no party coming from the Darling they had started to make the camp 60, and from there to take a course south-east for Bulloo, so Mr Burke said it would be madness to attempt to follow them, as the men were in good order and the camels in good order, and it was useless to expect to make forced marches.
Q1012. Did he say so ?-Yes; before we unpacked the camels he said that had they have stated they had been in the weak state they were we should have tried to overtake them at any risk.
Q1013. Then you determined upon this other course, did you not ?-We remained there a few days, and Mr Burke and Mr Wills were in consultation together concerning what was best to be done, and they came to the conclusion we had better make for Mount Hopeless, as it was a shorter distance to there than to the Darling, as we knew that it was a very dry season, and judging from the experience we had coming up, there was very little permanent water in the way up from the Darling to the creek, and we should suffer from the want of water severely in attempting to go to the Darling.
Q1014. Did you all concur in that ?-Mr Wills and myself were agreed to proceed up the creek in consequence of Mr Brahe stating that he intended to make for camp 60; I thought he might have been induced to remain there a few days to give us a chance, and if we arrived there we would overtake them.
Q1015. Could the camels have taken you on at all, after travelling the thirty miles, the day you arrived ?-I believe they could not have travelled another mile.
Q1016. They were done up ?-Completely done up.
Q1017. You pressed them that day ?-Yes, we pressed them that day and it was as much as they could stand.
Q1018. You did not follow the depot party ?-No.
Q1019. What course did you take ?-A few days after.
Q1020. You remained a few days at the depot ?-Yes.
Q1021. How long did you remain there ?-I cannot say the number of days; a very few days; I wish to make this remark to the Commission, in my narrative I was not altogether in strength of mind or body at the time, and the number of days I stated we remained at the depot is incorrect, and also the number of days we took in pushing on for Mount Hopeless was incorrect. I have no doubt I stated such as Mr Howitt has written it, but it is not correct.
Q1022. How many days do you think you remained there ?-I really do not know.
Q1023. But you remained some days ?-We remained some days; you can see the number of days by referring to Mr Wills's diary.
Q1024. Before you started for Mount Hopeless you covered up the cache or deposit as it was before ?-Yes, just exactly the same.
Q1025. And covered it with dung ?-Yes, with the camel and horse dung.
Q1026. You left it as nearly as possible just as you found it ?-Yes.
Q1027. Leaving a note ?-Leaving a note and some sheep's leather that we saw.
Q1028. Did you leave the letter ?-That we found there ? We put it in the plant.
Q1029. Did you see the rake ?-Yes.
Q1030. Did you put it against the tree in the same position as you found it ?-We found it against the stockade and laid it against the tree which was marked.
Q1031. You took it away from the stockade where it was placed and put it against the tree ?-We found it at the top of the stockade and I was the person who took it to lay the dung level on the cache; after coming down I laid it against the tree.
Q1032. It did not occur to Mr Burke or any one to leave any mark on the tree ?-No; we did not expect the party would return; we thought the word "Dig" would answer our purpose as well as it would theirs.
Q1033. Did Mr Burke express anything about Wright when you were there ?-No.
Q1034. Was it his expectation to meet Mr Brahe's party as well as the survey party, and Mr Wright's party ?-That was his expectation; and Mr Burke some three or four days before we arrived at the depot asked me did I wish to remain at the depot or accompany him to town, as he thought there would be a permanent depot there, and he said he would get me permission to remain a few weeks in town and then return to the depot, and Mr Wills made also the same promise.
Q1035. Had he ever any doubt on his mind of Mr Wright not being able to get there ?-I never heard him express himself so.
Q1036. He was quite confident ?-He was quite confident there would be the depot there.
Q1037. Did he allude to any instructions Mr Brahe had received, of Mr Brahe leaving failing the party arriving ?-No; the only doubt Mr Burke had was, the day we struck Cooper's Creek the blacks were surrounding us, and Mr Burke said that we must be very cautious in our dealings with them as we knew not what they might have done to the depot party.
Q1038. Then he never dreamed the party would have gone away ?-We never thought of it, neither had we any right to expect it.
Q1039. You found some provisions there ?-50 lbs. of flour, 50 lbs. or 60 lbs. of oatmeal, some 20 lbs. of rice, 15 lbs. of dried meat and 50 lbs. of sugar.
Q1040. Was there as much as you expected there would be ?-We thought they might have left more; we considered they had nine months' provisions without stinting, and they had also instructions to kill the horses and camels if they required fresh meat.
Q1041. You remained there to refresh, and then proceeded on to Mount Hopeless ?-We remained there some few days and intended to travel down the creek slowly as Mr Burke stated in the note we left in the plant.
Q1042. Do you think you had provisions enough to reach there?-Yes; Mr Burke calculated upon making the provisions last forty days.
Q1043. Then as to that journey of yours towards Mount Hopeless, an account of which Mr Howitt sent down, you have nothing to add in supplementation of it ?-Nothing.
Q1044. That is a correct diary ?-Except with respect to what I have stated before as to the time.
Q1045. Did you limit yourselves with the provisions from the time you reached the depot, or did you indulge for a few days-did you use a limited supply on each day from the time you reached the depot, or did you take as much as you felt inclined for ?-We had a certain allowance from the time we found the plant until on our way down the creek, when one of the camels got bogged, and then we had to make away with a great deal of our clothing and other articles to make our swag, and we then had to consume all the sugar but about twelve pounds.
Q1046. You were then on your way to Mount Hopeless ?-We were then endeavoring to trace out the creek and try and get on Mr Gregory's track.
Q1047. And then you had to part with a great deal of that forty days' provisions ?-The sugar-after making a swag for the camel we each of us carried something.
Q1048. Did you leave any of the provisions you started with, on the way, when the camel was knocked up ?-We left none. We, consumed a considerable quantity of sugar; and, at the same time, gave the camel balls of sugar and oatmeal so as to enable him to keep his condition.
Q1049. How much do you think was a daily ration from the time you found it, for the few days you spelled after discovering the plant ?-We said we all preferred the porridge to anything that was left.
Q1050. How did you make that porridge ?-We boiled the water and kept stirring the oatmeal and the sugar.
Q1051. In travelling down you were not able to carry all the things that you had with you in going towards Mount Hopeless ?-Not after losing the first camel: we had to leave the camel pads, and such things as bed clothing we had to leave behind.
Q1052. You did leave them behind ?-Yes; we made two attempts to get to Mount Hopeless; after our first failure we remained on the creek some short time to recruit our strength and make the necessary preparations to start again.
Q1053. With what clothing did you reach Cooper's Creek ?-We just reached it with what we stood in.
Q1054. Had you any bed clothing ?-None but the camel pads and two oil cloths.
Q1055. What portion of that did you have to throw away ?-Some of the camel pads; you could carry as much as you chose for your own comfort besides an equal weight of provisions.
Q1056. What clothing had you; had you boots at the time of Mr Burke and Mr Wills' death ?-Yes, boots such as they were.
Q1057. And trousers ?-We had each a pair of trousers, such as they were; they were torn in rags.
Q1058. Had you any under clothing ?-Mr Wills had a guernsey and he had a wide-awake.
Q1059. You had a covering for your head ?-Yes, a wide-awake; Mr Wills had an old pair of boots and an old pair of flannel trousers.
Q1060. What had you at night ?-At night, towards the latter end, we had the horsehair from the pads; the water had destroyed the pads, so that it was only the mere hair we had to cover us. As I stated in my narrative, Mr Burke accidentally set fire to the gunyah in which our articles of clothing were, and they were destroyed.
Q1061. Then in fact after the gunyah was burnt you had nothing but the clothes you wore ?-And a few patches of the camel rug that we managed to save from the fire.
Q1062. What became of Mr Wills' clothes when he died ?-The natives during my absence had pulled down part of the gunyah and put the timber of the gunyah across his breast, and had taken his hat and some other articles of clothing he had; the guernsey, and the flannel trousers, and an old waistcoat, I think, was on his remains when Mr Howitt found him.
Q1063. Were there any other things in the gunyah at the time?-There were some buttons and some other little articles; he-had a housewife, that the natives found and threw away, as they did not care about them; Mr Howitt, I believe, has the housewife.
Q1064. During any part of your return journey to the creek are you aware if you had exceeded three months, or even four months, before you reached the depot; or from what you heard do you know whether in Mr Burke's mind there was an idea of the party leaving the depot ?-None.
Q1065. Suppose he had been away five months he would still have expected to find them there ?-Yes, we should still have expected to find the party there. Mr Burke said they should have remained at any risk.
Q1066. Mr Burke, it is to be presumed, was exceedingly weak when you finally parted with him ?-Yes, he walked till he dropped.
Q1067. Did he express any intention in his wishing to have his revolver in his hand; did he give any reason for it ?-I heard him say-he said to me, "King, this is nice treatment after fulfilling our task, to arrive where we left our companions where we had every right to expect them."
[The Age; Some questions were put touching the death of Burke and Wills but Mr King's feelings gave way at the recollection of the mournful circumstances, and in pity to him the Commission changed the theme.]
Q1068. [Pratt] Do you see that letter-[pointing to the letter written, by Mr Wills to his father] ?-That is the letter Mr Wills read.
Q1069. Did he read it out for the purpose of being corrected if there was any statement in it that was not quite correct ?-I believe the reason was, in case the letter should be found, that he should not say anything to our disadvantage, mine or Mr Burke's; he thought that we would see it was the truth and nothing but the truth. -[Watch produced]- That is the watch Mr Wills desired the survivor to give to his father, which I have done.
Q1070. There was a pocket-book, was there not ?-Yes, which Mr Burke gave me on the evening before his death, requesting me to deliver it to Sir William Stawell, but under any circumstances I was not to deliver it to any other gentleman of the committee. I delivered it to Sir William Stawell this morning.
Q1071. Did you know anything of the nature of the contents of it ?-No, except what Mr Burke read to me affecting myself, and which Sir William Stawell has read to me this morning. The same book I showed to Mr Howitt, telling him that it was Mr Burke's desire that I should deliver it to Sir William Stawell himself. Mr Burke also gave me his watch, and told me it was the property of the committee; the same I delivered to Mr Howitt.
Q1072. You kept possession of the book ?-Yes, and gave it over to Sir William Stawell this morning.
Q1073. How did you preserve all those things while with the blacks ?-I had a small canvas pouch, which I always carried about with me on my person.
Q1074. Did they ever covet anything ?-Yes, they used often to make me show them the contents of it.
Q1075. Did you keep the watch wound up ?-No.
Q1076. With regard to Mr Burke keeping any journal do you know anything of that ?-He left some notes but the day we left Mr Wills he gave me a small pocket-book desiring me to use it as I chose. The contents he said were of no importance. He often gave me paper out of his pocket-book to use in firing at crows as wads, and at the same time he gave me this he told me to use it as I chose.
Q1077. Did it contain any memoranda ?-There were some notes.
1078. Relative to the journey ?-He said "you may use it, it is not of any importance." I did not mean that it should come into the possession of the committee as it was my own private property.
Q1079. The journal kept by Mr Wills, was it written as the joint journal of Mr Burke and Mr Wills they seem to consult as to what entries were to be made in that journal ?-Yes, Mr Wills always consulted Mr Burke, and I believe the one journal answered for both.
Q1080. Was that the reason that only one journal was kept ?-Yes.
Q1081. Mr Burke thought it unnecessary to keep any memoranda, seeing that he concurred in all the memoranda in Mr Wills' journal ?-Yes, any remarks Mr Burke made Mr Wills always put down in his journal.
Q1082. Did he generally read to Mr Burke what he wrote ?-Yes; every evening after Mr Wills arriving in camp he wrote the occurrences of the day and read it to Mr Burke, and Mr Burke would make any additions he liked to the diary.
Q1083. Did he ever sign them ?-No, never; they were not signed so far as I know.
Q1084. But you heard him generally read it over ?-Yes, I generally heard the diary read daily.
Q1085. The journal was always in Mr Wills' hand-writing ?-Yes, always.
Q1086. The Chairman [Pratt]: The Commission will not trouble you any further to-day, and they are exceedingly obliged for the clear statement you have made. [King] There is one remark I wish to make: It is understood, or at least it seems to be the impression of the public, that Mr Wills was leader of the party; but I deny that. Mr Burke was the leading man of the party.
Q1087. [Pratt] That is not the general understanding ?-Several gentlemen have spoken to me on the subject.
Q1088. [Hervey] You explained that by saying that there was only one journal, but which at the same time was a joint journal ?-The reason I wish to make the remark is, that I would like to set the public opinion right upon the subject.
The witness withdrew.
Later, while Dr Mueller was being questioned, Mueller asked King some further questions ...
Q1111. The Witness [Mueller] to Mr King - Could you recollect the nature of the country where you were encamped whilst Messrs Burke and Wills went on foot down to the sea, was it a low country in which you were, or were there any stony ridges near the bank where you camped ? [King]-There were some stony ridges which we passed the day before we camped.
Q1112. Was it a flat elevated country or a very broken country ? [King]-Convenient to the creek it was very regular, the country back was gradually rising.
Q1113. Was it table land ? [King]-Yes.
Q1114. And the river, where you struck it, formed only a deep fissure in the table land to which you descended 400 feet ? [King]-That is in the ranges.
Q1115. Was the country very much broken or was it a high plateau ? [King]-It was very much broken. The watercourse that we left may not have been the main watercourse of the river as there were creeks adjoining this from east to west, one was a running creek.
Q1116. What was the width of the river where you camped for several days ? [King]-Twenty-five yards.
Q1117. Was it a continuous stream or was it broken up into pools ? [King]-A continuous stream. We travelled some thirty or thirty-five miles on one continuous stream. The day before we camped the water was quite brackish and scarcely drinkable, and the day we camped the water was quite salt.
Thursday 12th December 1861.
Mr John King further examined.
1704. The Commission understand that you forgot to mention that when you returned to Cooper's Creek, before you finally left it, you left something there ?-Yes; I was the person who broke the bottle to take the note out. I put the pieces of the bottle on the top of the stockade; we also left a bag of horseshoe nails scattered about, and cut a large square out of the hide that formed the door of the stockade.
1705. The stockade was quite close to where the things were buried ?-Quite close.
1706. How far ?-To the best of my knowledge it may be ten yards; I believe not that.
1707. And you put those pieces of the broken bottle on the top of the stockade ?-Yes.
1708. How on the stockade; on the top of one of the planks ?-On the top of one of the planks.
1709. That was to show as a record that you had been there ?-That is what I meant; and hung on some nails that were in the planks rags and pieces of leather.
1710. Did Mr Burke change his boots ?-Yes; he took his old pair and the pair that was there also.
1711. He took them ?-Yes. We also left an old billy at the depot.
1712. He did not leave any ?-No.
1713. Have you anything further to-say ?-There is a remark that Mr Wright has made, stating that Mr Burke intended to send Mr Brahe back from Torowoto. When Mr Burke fell the party in Mr Wright was there, and he told us he might have occasion to send some men back within a few days-perhaps not until we got to Cooper's Creek, or perhaps not at all, or, perhaps at Eyre's Creek. Mr Wright heard these words, yet he says he was waiting for the return of the camels.
1714. Mr Burke, in his own despatch, which he sent down by Mr Wright, does not hold out any certainty of being able to do that; he says he might, and he says further that he might not: it is quite uncertain ?
Mr Wright -What Mr Burke told me was - he did not say he would do so, that was more than he could say, but that possibly he would do so.
Mr King -I wish also to state, that there is no sign of religion recorded in any part of the diary. We each had our bible and prayer-book, and we occasionally read them going and coming back; and also the evening before the death of Mr Burke, I am happy to say, he prayed to God for forgiveness for the past, and died happy, a sincere Christian.
1715. Mr Brahe - You know that Mr Burke told me, after leaving Torowoto, Mr Wright was coming up with me when I was coming up again from the Darling, or did you be believe that I was to be sent back from Cooper's Creek after reaching it ?-No; I do not believe it. It could not be. I never heard Mr Burke or any other officer say so.
1716. Mr Brahe - Were not all the members of the party under the impression that I was to go back ?-That you might be sent back if any person was to be sent.
Mr Brahe.-I was told by Mr Burke, that Wright was coming up with me -That was after Mr Wright had left Torowoto. I was told so.
1717. By the Commission (to Mr King) -Have you any reason to know that was so ?-The reason I know is that Mr Burke in expressing himself before the party said that party may have occasion to be sent back; but he did not give any information positively on that to any party.
1718. Were you present at the time when the cache was first opened at Cooper's Creek; that is on your return from Carpentaria when you came to the cache, did you see the state it was in ?-Yes; Mr Wills and myself were the persons that opened it and took out the contents.
1719. Can you recollect whether you restored it afterwards to a state similar to that which you found it in ?-As far as we possibly could, though we could not lay the same amount of dung on it, but I scattered a portion about.
1720. You think it quite possible that within a fortnight after that two persons could return and not notice that the cache had been opened ?-If I myself had been the person who made the plant I think I should have been able to detect whether it had been opened or not, especially when the relief party passed it, it was then ten inches sunk beneath the surface.
1721. There was no cut in a tree-no fresh cut, or fresh mark made so as to leave unquestionable evidence of your having been there ?-No, but many marks about that might indicate our visit; there were our fires there that any person might have known that Europeans had been there. There is a great difference in that respect between Europeans and natives.
1722. How was a European to know whether it was a European or native fire-there was not a stick of wood to show; could you yourself tell the difference ?-We left wood there; he states there was no wood there.
1723. Was there plenty of wood about ?-The wood was scarce; we had to burn some of the small stools which the depot party left there, and we left some partly burned; from the position of our fires the difference might be might be distinguished.
1724. Was it near this cache where the gunyah was burnt ?-It was some thirty-five miles down the creek.
1725. Did it not occur to you whilst you were there on your return to Cooper's Creek, to leave some mark on some trees, or some other mark behind you more than putting the bottle on the stockade ?-We had no implements.
1726. No tomahawk ?-No, nor axe-all we had was a blade of a knife and two lancets; and Mr Burke never expected the party to return so soon, judging from the note left. That was mentioned amongst us that we should make a mark on a tree somewhere, but Mr Burke said-he did not see the use of it, the word "dig" would answer our purpose if a it party came up in a few months time as we had then every hope and prospect of getting down to Mount Hopeless.
1727. And in all your conversations with Mr Burke and Mr Wills, you were under the impression that you would have found the depot party at Cooper's Creek when you returned ?-We always entertained that expectation.
1728. You were under the impression, so much so that you ate rather profusely of your provisions the day before you arrived there ?-Yes, from the certainty we had of finding relief there; also Mr Burke was cooeying to the men within twenty to thirty yards of the place-he saw no lights; he cooeyed and called to the men by name whom he had left there. I have nothing else to state except that if Mr Landells is to be examined then I shall have to defend Mr Burke's character as I am happy to say it is in my power to do so.
The witness withdrew.
Thursday 12th December 1861. (Second appearance)
Mr John King further examined.
1736. Can you confirm that statement at all in any way, or do you know anything about it ?-Mr Wills told me just as the father of the gentleman states, that the camels were lost through Mr McDonough's neglect during the time he was writing and taking observations.
1737. McDonough never disputed that, did he ?-McDonough told me that it was while they were at supper in the evening, but I do not see how that could be, because they generally took supper, and ourselves, about six o'clock in the evening; and it was so dark that they could not see the camels, so that it would be most likely when Mr Wills was taking observations.
The witness withdrew.