Minutes of Evidence: John Smith
Tuesday 10th December 1861
John Smith examined.
1471. Did you join the party at Menindie ?-Yes.
1472. Who engaged you ?-Mr Wright.
1473. Was that after he returned from showing Mr Burke part of the way ?-Yes.
1474. The party were then encamped at Menindie ?-Yes.
1475. The party that Mr Burke left ?-Yes.
1476. Were there a large number of them there?-There was only Dr Beckler and Mr Hodgkinson.
1477. And all the cattle and stores ?-Yes.
1478. Were you engaged in any particular capacity ?-No.
1479. How long were you down there after you were engaged before you started for Cooper's Creek ?-From the 7th of December until the 26th of January.
1480. Had you been there from the time the party were there first ?-Yes.
1481. Were you living at Menindie ?-I joined the party on the 7th of December, I had not been living at Menindie before that.
1482. You remained with the party until they started on the 26th of January ?-Yes.
1483. Were you looking after the cattle during that time ?-Yes, I was just knocking about.
1484. Were all the other parties going knocking about too ?-Yes.
1485. Were they not engaged in any particular occupation of any kind ?-Preparing the things to start out.
1486. What were you preparing ?-We were making bags to hold flour.
1487. Did you know much of that country ?-No, I was a stranger there; I came down from the Murray.
1488. You were never out in that country before ?-No.
1489. You waited there till the 26th of January "knocking about" as you say ?-Yes.
1490. And then you finally started for Cooper's Creek ?-Yes.
1491. You took up plenty of stores ?-Yes, for six months,
1492. Did you suffer on the way up ?-Yes, from scurvy.
1493. Did you ever suffer from that before ?-Yes.
1494. Where?-On the Murrumbidgee.
1495. From being out ?-From eating salt meat.
1496. And from want of water ?-No, from want of vegetables more.
1497. Did it affect you in the same way ?-Yes.
1498. And the other men in the same way too ?-Those that had it.
1499. Had you not fresh provisions with you on the-way up ?-Yes, we had the jerked meat.
1500. And you had preserved vegetables ?-Yes, we had some of those.
1501. And plenty of other things ?-Yes.
1502. And rice and sugar and tea-you had all those had not you ?-Yes.
1503. But still for all that you suffered from scurvy ?-Yes.
1504. You went out with Mr Wright when you went to search for water in advance of the party ?-Yes.
1505. You were out for several days ?-Yes.
1506. You got as far as Bulloo ?-Yes.
1507. You had great difficulty in reaching any water; it had dried up ?-Yes, we were sixteen days out.
1508. Some of the party were sick at that time ?-Yes.
1509. But you got them all to Bulloo eventually ?-Yes.
1510. You did not go on to Cooper's Creek ?-No, we could not go.
1511. Did you not go with Mr Wright a day or two ?-First when we came to Bulloo.
1512. A couple of days after ?-I think it was two days after we got to Bulloo.
1513. You started out with Mr Wright towards Cooper's Creek ?-Yes.
1514. On horseback ?-Yes.
1515. You did not go far ?-No, we only went that day.
1516. What did you intend to go for-did you know that you were going to try to get to Cooper's Creek ?-I believe that was our intention.
1517. Did you know that it was to reach Cooper's Creek that you started ?-Yes, it was our intention.
1518. And you did not carry it out ?-No.
1519. Why ?-We could not do it, we were surrounded with blacks.
1520. And you got afraid and turned back ?-Yes.
1521. And you did not take any provisions except for yourselves ?-Only for our own use.
1522. How many days' provisions did you take ?-Ten or eleven days' provisions.
1523. And brought them back again ?-Yes.
1524. Did you get to water that night ?-Yes.
1525. Had you an eye to the country-what kind of country it was ?-Yes.
1526. Was it a grassy country ?-Yes.
1527. Was it in the direction of Cooper's Creek you were going ?-Yes.
1528. It was not for the purpose of exploring the country ?-No, it was to get to Cooper's Creek.
1529. But one day was enough-you turned back the next day ?-Yes.
1530. Had you any arms ?-Yes.
1531. The blacks were very troublesome on the way up, when yon were going to Bulloo ?-Yes.
1532. You had been amongst the blacks a good deal on the Murrumbidgee and about there ?-Yes.
1533. Were you afraid of them ?-No.
1534. Did they endeavor to molest you; were not you out looking for horses and cattle occasionally yourself ?-No, I never met them.
1535. Do you think they had any particular enmity to you ?-I do not think they had.
1536. You do not know any of them up there ?-No.
1537. You did not go to Cooper's Creek after that ?-No.
1538. You turned back from Bulloo ?-Yes.
1539. You had plenty of provisions at that time, had you not ?-Provisions to take us on.
1540. More than that had not you ?-Yes.
1541. Plenty of clothing ?-Yes.
1542. And the camels were loaded with provisions, some of them were brought back to the Darling were they not ?-Yes, we brought some back.
1543. And there were several sick there ?-Yes.
1544. Were you ever in any great danger from the blacks do you think ?-Yes; once at Bulloo.
1545. When they surrounded the camp and you had to fire upon them ?-Yes.
1546. Did they attempt to rush the camp ?-I believe that was their intention.
1547. What did they do, how did they manifest their intention, what did they do when they got round you ?-That morning in particular they were all painted and came up with boomerangs.
1548. How near did they approach ?-They came within fifty yards and kept approaching until we fired.
1549. Was it the firing that stopped them ?-Yes.
1550. Was it only dancing they were ?-No.
1551. Were they painted down the middle and across ?-Yes.
1552. Had they their gins with them ?-No.
1553. Or piccaninnies ?-No, only men.
1554. The women were with most of the tribes you met were they not ?-Not of those tribes that came that time.
1555. How many were there of them ?-About fifty.
1556. You knew nothing of the plans of the party ?-No.
The witness withdrew.