Minutes of Evidence: Day 3
12.00pm Thursday, 28th November 1861.
All members of the Commission were present:
* The Honorable Sir T. S. Pratt, K.C.B., in the Chair.
* The Honorable the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly [Sir Frances Murphy MP].
* The Honorable the Acting President of the Legislative Council [Matthew Hervey MLC].
* The Honorable J. F. Sullivan, Esq., MP.
Intially absent, but joined the proceedings half way through:
* Evelyn P. S. Sturt, Esq.
* Mr R R Haverfield
The meeting was held in the rooms attached to the Legislative Council chambers. Mr Sturt was not present at the start of proceedings and took his seat half way through today's enquiry.
[The Argus; Mr Brahe said he wanted to correct an error into which the newspapers had fallen. It had been stated that he had had charge of the provisions. Such was not the fact. He had only been asked by Mr Burke to make out a list of them. The Chairman [Pratt] informed Mr Brahe that the evidence was being taken down at length by the Government short-hand writer.]
Mr William Brahe further examined.
[The Argus; Sir Francis Murphy said he wished to take Mr Brahe back to the time he left Cooper's Creek.]
Q301. [Murphy] Referring again to Cooper's Creek with respect to the note you left along with the stores-that note which is taken from the newspapers, in one part of it says : "Two of my companions and myself are quite well; the third (Patten) has been unable to walk for the last eighteen days, as his leg has been severely hurt when thrown by one of the horses; no person has been up here from the Darling. We have six camels and twelve horses in good working condition." Does that accurately describe the state of the party then ?-It does in a very careless way. I stated yesterday I did not expect Mr Burke would see that note. I left it for any party that would probably be coming up from the Darling, who would be sent up in search of us, and by that note it would appear what had become of the depot party. I did not think it of any consequence to tell them the exact state of our health,
Q302. Then it was not the exact state of the party ?-McDonough, Botan, the sepoy, and myself were well able to work, and I said about the camels "that the camels were in good working condition," but I had not travelled half-a-dozen miles when I found that they were hardly able to travel. I had to lighten the loads the first day, and they were but very lightly packed with water bags. I had to throw some of those water bags away that night. I should have told an untruth when I came down here if I had said the camels were in good condition.
Q303. Then the fact is that the paper you left with the provisions did not accurately describe the state of the party ?-No, it did not; the doctor's statement of Wright's party must show that. McDonough was laid up shortly after our arrival at Wright's camp, and he was ill for weeks, and the same with Patten. I myself was very poorly when I returned with Wright to Cooper's Creek, and I suffered a great deal from pains in the legs, and had sore gums. I had sore gums for three or four weeks before we left Cooper's Creek, but not knowing what it was I did not state that in the paper.
Q304. Then your statement "two of my companions and myself are quite well" was not the fact ?-No.
Q305. Neither was it a fact that you had "six camels and twelve horses in good working condition ?"-No; two of the camels were not in good condition. I was told by the sepoy those camels were well able to go down and I wrote it down.
Q306. In the report you made when you came down to town of the circumstances under which you were at Cooper's Creek you stated you found two of the camels were very scabby but that you did not discover it until after you had left Cooper's Creek-was that so ?-I did not discover it until I had left the depot. I did not exactly discover they were scabby, but that they were sick. I thought it was by being over worked.
Q307. The object of the question is to point out to you the discrepancy between the paper you left at the depot, and the report written and signed by you after you came down to town ?-I arrived here on a Sunday morning; I had travelled very quickly from Menindie and was requested by the Committee of the Royal Society to write out a statement. I hurried home and I believe I handed it in that same Sunday afternoon, the day I arrived. I wrote, it out as quickly as I could, and was tired and rather excited at the time.
Q308. You account for the discrepancy in that way ?-I did not exactly say how the party was at the time I left the depot.
Q309. You kept a journal when you were staying at Cooper's Creek ?-Yes.
Q310. In that journal of yours, April the 15th, you say-"Patten is getting worse and I and McDonough begin to feel approaching symptoms of the same disease?"-Yes. I wrote that out of my note-book-at least at that time, I mentioned in my note-book-"We have pains, and do not understand what they are."
Q311. That would be inconsistent with the paper you placed in the depot, which states that two of your companions and yourself were quite well ?-Yes, but I did not wish to give any uneasiness to any party in coming up on our account. It is very probable if I had stated we were ill that they would have thought we should never reach the Darling.
Q312. [Murphy] Do you not see if you had reflected for a moment, you would have seen the difficulty in which Mr Burke would be placed, if he had known you were ill, and not very well able to make long journeys; he might have been induced to follow you, but seeing you state you were quite well he did not do so ?-I made so confident that Mr Burke would not return.
Q313. How did you deal out the rations; did you weigh them out weekly or daily ?-That I could not do. We had a small quantity of rice boiled in the morning for breakfast.
Q314. Was that weighed ?-Measured by the pint. I believe it was a pint or just sufficient for four of us, that was all we had with sugar boiled in water. At dinner time we had damper, tea, and while we had salt pork or beef we had a little of that. At night perhaps two biscuits and tea.
Q315. You did not weigh it ?-No.
Q316. [Murphy] You are asked that because it is stated in the papers of yesterday, in the letter to Dr Wills from his son, who, it is regretted, is no more, that your party "had provisions enough to have lasted them twelve months with proper economy" ?-I stated here yesterday that Mr Burke only took six months provisions from the Darling, but I was not sure of it. Since then my brother has handed this statement to me of Mr Hodgkinson's [published in the Argus]. He stated in Melbourne that Mr Burke left the Darling with provisions for twenty-four weeks for six men.
His Excellency [Barkly] asked Hodgkinson "How long do you think Mr Burke was provisioned for when he left ?"
[Hodgkinson]; "He left on the 19th October, with provisions for six men for twenty-four weeks, but since that Mr Wright was attached to the expedition with two blackfellows; in addition to which Mr Burke generally gets a native, from one tribe to another, to show the water-holes, and that costs him something.
His Excellency [Barkly]; "Making all these allowances how long do you think he is provisioned for ?"
[Hodgkinson] "I should say your Excellency for nineteen weeks. He has flour, and everything in fact, except the meat. Mr Wright reports that the meat was nearly all consumed when he left Mr Burke, and that they had some apprehension of wanting meat. The heat of the climate reduces the weight of the salt meat, especially pork, very much.
Q317. [Murphy] Then, that statement which appears here (we have not got the original letter and therefore it can at present only be taken from the newspapers), about the party having "provisions enough to have lasted them for twelve months with proper economy," you think was not absolutely correct; that was not substantially the state of the case?- Certainly it was not unless we were supposed to kill horses and camels, and I had no instructions to that effect.
Q318. [Murphy] It is stated also in this letter, "the party we left here had special instructions not to leave until our return, unless from absolute necessity ?"-I never received such instructions, and I do not believe that Mr Wills at the time he left expected that I would receive such instructions, for on our way down he asked me to remain at least four months if possible.
Q319. You have stated that already. Would not it have struck yourself that you should not have moved from that depot unless in case of absolute necessity ?-Certainly not.
Q320. Did you conceive that that absolute necessity had arisen ?-Not exactly an absolute necessity. The time Mr Burke gave me was three months; he said after three months time I had no reason to expect him back, nor did I; I did not expect him back; but I might have stopped longer, and then used up those provisions I was able to bury.
Q321. Could you not have remained a month longer without risk to the party, except to that one sick man ?-Certainly not. If I had remained longer, at most I could only have remained a fortnight longer, and then if Mr Burke had not returned to the creek, I should most likely not have been able to leave the creek.
Q322. Why ?- On account of ourselves; Patten was evidently getting worse, and McDonough's leg was getting worse, and I myself felt getting weaker I was not so strong at least as I was.
Q323. [Pratt] Had you any clothes of any description at Cooper's Creek that might have been left ?-Yes, I had a parcel of clothes that were left with me by Mr Wills, and only those that I knew of, and we ourselves were very badly off.
Q324. Those you brought back with you ?-Yes, I brought them back.
Q325. Why did you not leave them behind as well as the provisions ?-I thought if they did return they were as well provided with clothing as we were. They were mostly shirts.
Q326. Not warm clothing of any kind ?-No, not any.
Q327. Were they all shirts ? -Some shoes and light clothing.
Q328. [Sullivan] When you returned to Cooper's Creek with Wright how long did you remain there ?-I suppose, I could not exactly tell, not more than a quarter of an hour at the depot.
Q329. Did you make any examination about to see who had been there ?-Yes; I tied my horse up, and so I believe did Wright, near the cache, and went into the stockade and round it and examined all the trees.
Q330. Could you not discover any tracks ?-I saw camel tracks, but supposed them to be our own.
Q331. Did you see any impression of human feet ?-No impression.
Q332. Why ?-From the number of rats and the place being dusty.
Q333. Are you bushman enough to be able to follow a track ?- Yes.
Q334. Have you ever practiced it ?-Yes, I have of horses and camels.
Q335. Could you tell the difference between the track of a white man and of a native ?-Certainly, unless they were bare footed.
Q336. Even bare footed ?-I should not be able.
Q337. You did not discover any track that would lead you to suppose any one had been there ?-None. I should certainly have opened the cache if I had thought any one had been there. I thought the natives had been there on account of those three different fire-places.
Q338. Did you see any native tracks ?-No, not fresh.
Q339. [Hervey] At whose instigation did you return after meeting Wright - yours or his ?-Mine.
Q340. What was the object of that ?-I had got right, and Patten he was in the doctor's hands. I thought he required rest there, and would get all right in a fortnight's time. Mr Wright not having been to Cooper's Creek I thought that we could not be better employed than in going back there as a last chance for Mr Burke.
Q341. Had you a lingering suspicion that he might be there ?-Yes, there was still a chance.
Q342. [Hervey] At the time you left Cooper's Creek to make your way to the Darling was it the last part of the season that was favorable for it ?-It had been dry for a very long time.
Q343. What was the month you left ?-The 21st of April I left. We had had a few slight showers the week before.
Q344. You had no apprehension of not getting to the Darling because you left at that particular time-it was not too late in the season but that you could have reached it at a later time ?-I had expected rain then for weeks, and thought that it had most probably rained down the country.
Q345. Was it in reality the beginning of the season for that country ?-I believe so.
Q346. And that season extends on until October generally, and sometimes as late as December, when you might have reached the Darling with safety, as far as water is concerned ?-Yes; but as I had only been up there once, I did not know whether I could depend upon rains or not. The natives had told me a month before we left the creek that we would be flooded out-that the depot would be flooded.
Q347. Was it within your knowledge that the rainy season generally began about April and extended to October or sometimes even to December or January ?-No; I was told the heaviest rains fell about the middle of the summer.
Q348. [Pratt] With regard to this statement of Mr Wills sent by him to his father, and which it is understood was read by Mr Wills in the presence of Mr King, in order for him to make any remarks in case he should have stated anything that was not correct - can you at all account for the fact that it appears not only by this letter but on two previous occasions he had distinctly impressed upon his mind that you were to remain until they came back, even beyond the three months - can you at all give an opinion why he made this death-bed declaration and also on two previous occasions had expressed so strongly that he expected to find you there ?-I cannot understand that. I do not know what reason he had for it.
Q349. [Murphy] When you met Mr Wright, did he give you any reasons for his delay in coming up from Menindie-did you not say you expected him up much sooner, and that Mr Burke did too ?-Yes; I said I had expected him up on the 15th of November, that is, that I expected Mr Wright to leave the Darling on the 15th of November.
Q350. Did Mr Burke say that to you ?- He did; he expected him before he left the creek.
Q351. I understand you to say that Mr Burke had told you before he went away that he expected Mr Wright would have left Menindie on the 15th of November ?-Yes.
Q352. Did you mention that to Mr Wright when you met him ?-Yes, and he said it would have been impossible; that when he returned to Menindie, he found Lyons waiting there with despatches, he gave him the horses he had brought from Torowoto and sent him off to Mr Burke with McPherson, one of the original party.
Q353. Did he give that as a reason for not leaving on the 15th ?-I am not sure whether he gave that as a reason, but I believe he expected that some of the party would return with Lyons with horses and camels; he told me that he expected me back to the Darling with horses and camels, and that is not at all unlikely, because I was told by Mr Burke, two days after we left Menindie, I was to go back to the Darling from Cooper's Creek with horses and camels to fetch up the other party. Wright at that time was not one of the party, he was merely a guide; and at Torowoto, Wright was engaged by Mr Burke, and after his departure when we had left Torowoto, Mr Burke told me "Mr Wright will be coming up with you from the Darling."
Q354. "With you" ?-"With you". Until I arrived at Cooper's Creek I believed I would have to go back to the Darling, and he said then "I am going to take you on with me", but two or three days before his departure he said, "As Wright has not come up you must remain here."
Q355. If Wright had come up you would have gone on ?-Yes, I should have gone on.
Q356. When you met Mr Wright had you then, between the two parties, an abundance of provisions ?-I believe so, but I do not know what quantity of provisions Wright had, I never enquired.
357. Until the time of going back to the Darling you might have concluded that there was an abundance ?-I do not think there was any to spare at the Darling.
Q358. [Hervey] By joining Wright's party had you nothing additional that you could have taken back to deposit at the cache ?-Yes, we could have taken some.
Q359. You say you think that you had an abundance with you when you returned to Cooper's Creek with Mr Wright ?-Yes, we could have taken provisions from Bulloo.
Q360. Did not it strike you to do so ?-No.
Q361. Nor Mr Wright ?-I do not suppose so. We went back thinking that the last chance for Mr Burke having arrived, or we should not have required more provisions than to take Mr Burke down with us; those I had left would have been sufficient take us all back.
Q362. Then you must have brought back more provisions than were necessary to bring you back-You took a considerable quantity to Cooper's Creek more than you required ?-No, barely sufficient.
Q363. To take you there and back ?-Yes, just sufficient; we had a long strip of waterless country to go over, we took ten days provisions with us and we returned on the eleventh day.
Q364. Out of the two parties you could no doubt have constructed one to leave at Cooper's Creek; you did not think of sending back a party after having met Wright to remain at Cooper's Creek ?-No; it would have been impossible to do so, most of the men being ill and a great many animals to be looked after, and too few of us.
Q365. [Pratt] You were under Mr Wright after you joined him ?-Yes, from the time I joined.
Q366. [Murphy] When you returned with Mr Wright to Cooper's Creek you did not make any search beyond the depot?-Not beyond the depot.
Q367. [Murphy] ...and you remained there a very short time ?-Yes; we were within four miles of the depot the night before, we went to the depot early in the morning, made a search about the place, and returned.
Q368. Did you dismount ?-Yes, and had the horses tied up.
Q369. And you found the rake leaning against the tree where you had placed it ?-I believe I placed it on the cache, leaning against a tree, and I found it there when I returned.
Q370. Did you meet any of the natives when you returned with Mr Wright ?-At the first camp on the creek, 60.
Q371. That was a considerable distance above the cache ?-Yes, a long distance.
Q372. Perhaps they had not seen Mr Burke ?-No; they had never been down that way, I believe not so far down.
Q373. You did not happen to meet any natives that might have seen him ?-No, not one.
374. Did any of your party express a great desire to return to the Darling - did they suggest being removed to the Darling ?-All the sick did.
Q375. [Murphy] I mean those who were with you at Cooper's Creek ?-Yes; Patten was very anxious to be taken back to the Darling to get assistance.
Q376. Anybody else ?-No, not anyone else.
[The secretary, Mr Haverfield, here read the following message;]
Junction of the Murray and Darling
The weekly impression of the Argus newspaper of the 16th inst. is so full of accusations against the late officers of the Victorian Exploring Expedition that think it simply my duty to send you an unprejudiced statement referring to the state of health of the Cooper's Creek party, at the time of their arrival at Bulla. The state of Mr Patton is fully described in my official report, which can be referred to at any time. Mr Brahe himself was slightly affected with scurvy, yet he was so altered that the morning we had identified his horses, I did not recognise him when he came up to our camp at Bulla. Botan had similar slight symptoms of scurvy, but McDonough was suffering much more then either Brahe or Botan. It was chiefly his left knee, which became notwithstanding immediate attendance, worse, so that he was unable to do anything from three days after our arrival at Koorliatto Creek, and he remained so up to the time of our departure from that place, three weeks after our our arrival there. During this time Botan was also getting gradually worse, and was from the time of our departure from Poria Creek, to our arrival on the Darling, unable to work. Smith was exceedingly weak and unable to do any work at Koorliatto Creek and so was Belooch. Mr Brahe left for Cooper's Creek with Mr Wright a few days after our arrival at Koorliatto Creek. The only remedies he had with him and which he used regularly and in measured quantities were alum and citric acid. After his return to camp he felt quite well. I fully believe that if Mr Brahe had not left Cooper's Creek at the time he did, or a very few days after he would have been unable to proceed with this small and weak party towards Bulla. With regard to Brahe's service during the expedition I am sure that I only state what everyone of us would corroborate unhesitatingly, that nobody could be more zealous, active and contentious than he was, and that no one could have a stronger attachment to Mr Burke, or a more strict adherence to his orders. The instructions given to him by Mr Burke he repeated to us so often that there could not have been the slightest misunderstanding or want of arrangement. As to the imposing appearance of our cavalcade mentioned in Mr Wright's report, and referred to by one of the correspondents of the Argus, I have still a fresh impression of it. It was nothing more than shining misery. Smith and McDonough had to be helped on their horses. Belooch had constructed himself a seat on which he could comfortably rest in a reclining position while riding. Poor Patton was lying helpless in his litter, to which he still had to be secured. His transport alone required the continual attendance of Hodgkinson and myself. Of the six camels which came from Cooper's Creek, all were suffering a loathsome degree of scab, and two of them died a short time after the party joined us, one at Poria Creek and the others a few days afterwards on the journey.
I am, &c,
Q377. [Sullivan] Were you not in possession of certain seeds that you had instructions to plant in different places ?-Yes; a great quantity was taken away from Melbourne.
Q378. Did you plant any while staying at Cooper's Creek ?-We did not take any from the Darling.
Q379. They were all left behind at the Darling ?-Yes.
Q380. Did you ever hear the leaders of the expedition, previous to starting from Cooper's Creek, make any observation as to whether they were well or ill provided with stores ?-No, I did not, the leaders - not Mr Burke or Mr Wills.
Q381. What was the general impression - or, what was your own impression in the matter ?-That the provisions they had taken with them would just do them for twelve months, and that I mentioned to Mr Wills, and he requested us to remain at least four months, if it was possible, as they might possibly make them last that time.
Q382. It is stated in one place that four beeves were killed, and the meat all spoiled in the evening ?-That was while we were at Cooper's Creek - that was done by Mr Wright and his party.
Q383. How did it happen that the meat was spoiled ?-I do not know anything about that, I was not there.
The witness withdrew.
Mr Thomas F McDonough examined.
Q384. Were you one of the original party that started with Mr Burke ?-Yes; I was with him five weeks before the party started.
Q385. Did you go right through to the Darling ?-Yes.
Q386. Were you in charge of any particular portion of the expedition ?-No; I was one of the working men.
Q387. Everything got up safely to the Darling, the provisions and stores and everything ?-Yes; something was left at Balranald.
Q388. You went on with Mr Burke's advanced party from the Darling ?-Yes, from the Darling to Cooper's Creek.
Q389. You took on provisions; did you know anything about the amount of provisions you took ?-I could not state the particular amount, but Mr Burke told me he was taking on provisions for six months for six men, and he included two afterwards which made us a party of eight, not including Wright.
Q390. Nor the two blacks ?-Nor the two blacks.
Q391. They went as far as Torowoto ?-Yes; and there Mr Wright and the two blacks came back.
Q392. The provisions were good were they not, you had no complaint to make of them ?-With the exception of some jerked beef, cured here in Melbourne, which we found to be of no use; with regard to that Mr Burke left the greater part of that at Torowoto in a plant.
Q393. And had you no meat till you got to Cooper's Creek?-Yes, sometimes salt beef and sometimes salt pork.
Q394. You went right to Cooper's Creek with Mr Burke ?-Yes.
Q395. You were one of those that formed the depot party with Mr Brahe ?-Yes.
Q396. You did not go the last day that Mr Burke left ?-No; I went with him to the depot.
Q397. And you remained the whole time at the depot with Mr Brahe ?-Yes.
Q398. You were ill too ?-I was complaining through the effect of a kick I got from a camel three months previous to the time we left the depot on our retreat. I was then about a week laid up with it, but I got better afterwards; I was lame with it a week, and about three months afterwards, a fortnight or three weeks before we left for the Darling, my knee began to swell, and I fell pains about the ankles and pains in the gums but I was able to work any more than we had a great deal of walking after the camels, we had to go seven or eight miles in the morning and evening, and at night I would find greater pain about my ankles; the last week it became very painful and I had to sit down and rest.
Q399. That was the only work you did; the looking after the stock ?-Yes, and cutting up wood - we were making a stockade.
Q400. That only took a day or two ?-For three weeks after Mr Burke left we worked very hard.
Q401. Did you hear Mr Burke give any instructions as to the length of time your party were to remain ?-I never heard him give instructions-I had a conversation with Mr Burke relative to it.
Q402. What did he say ?-About twelve o'clock the day before he left he came out, that was my watch with the camels, and had an hour's private conversation about the matter; I referred to our stay on the creek and he told me we were to stay for three months or as long after as our provisions would last, leaving us sufficient to ensure our own return to the settled districts; he did not say what were his instructions but I just asked him how it was and he told me that.
Q403. Then that was all that he said on that point ?-That was all on that point, but I beg to remark he told me with regard to Mr Wright; he said, "I expect Mr Wright up in a few days, a fortnight at furthest, I left him positive instructions to follow me, and then he was instructed to find a more practical route between the Darling and Cooper's Creek and to keep up a communication with the committee." I understood at that time by Mr Burke giving those instructions he thought they would be acted upon, and of course if Mr Wright came up, there would be a permanent depot left there.
Q404. Then after Mr Burke's departure did Mr Brahe communicate to you the instructions he had received from Mr Burke ?-Yes.
Q405. What were they ?-The day after Mr Brahe returning, Patten asked him how long were we to remain; he said, "Mr Burke instructed me to remain three months or as long as our provisions would last us."
Q406. With due regard to being able to get, back ?-Yes; but that in going down the creek Mr Wills asked him to remain four, and he made the same statement and repeated it in conversation more than once afterwards.
Q407. [Hervey] Mr Burke must have been then somewhat doubtful as to Mr Wright getting to you ?-No, I do not think he could have been then, because he said he would be there in a few days, or a fortnight at furthest.
[Brahe] -I recollect well what Mr Burke said. On the morning he left he called us round him and said he expected Wright up that night or within two days, but perhaps he might not be able to come at all. He said, "I cannot be sure of him; I cannot be sure of him; he may not come at all; he may be prevented by accident."
Q408. Might those instructions be given as a contingency of Mr Wright's not coming ? [McDonough] I do not recollect those words about Mr Wright not coming; but I was excited at parting with Mr Burke; but I have a clear recollection of what he said in his conversation with me; he said he expected him in a fortnight at the furthest; he was fully convinced that he would be up.
Q409. [Pratt] Then those instructions might have been given in the belief that still Mr Wright might not be up with you ?-My conviction was that those instructions were given to Mr Brahe in case Wright did not come up, as Mr Wright was to be the head officer in charge.
Q410. When you met Mr Wright did you have any conversation about the delay in coming up ?-Yes.
Q411. What did he say ?-He said he did not think he had sufficient horses or sufficient provisions.
Q412. To leave the Darling ?-To leave the Darling; and he said the horses were knocked up by Lyons and McPherson; and he said, "what is the good of my living up there with three or four months' provisions;" he waited and said he would send back to the committee to get £300 or £400, the greater part of which was laid out in getting cattle and provisions.
Q413. [Murphy] Did Wright mean to say there were not provisions enough for the Darling ?-I think he wanted to buy meat.
Q414. You were acquainted with the quantity of the provisions you were using at Cooper's Creek ?-Not the precise quantity, but I can get at the amount.
Q415. [Murphy] You had plenty I suppose while you were there ?-We ate very little; the weather being too warm we did not eat much; we could of course eat as much as we chose to.
Q416. You were aware of the quantity Mr Burke left there ?-Yes, but I did not take any note of the weight of them.
Q417. What was the ration daily ?-A pint of rice, raw rice, boiled for breakfast, with some sugar; sugar was not scanty, we had plenty of that-we brought up more than would do for six months; then we had damper for dinner, and a little salt pork or beef; and we usually ate about two biscuits and a pint of tea at night.
Q418. Had you tea only once a day ?-We had tea twice a day-not much tea at night, but at dinner time, at noon, we used to have a fair quantity of tea, one and a half pint or so; the weather was warm.
Q419. You did not try to make the provisions last out by shooting or fishing, or getting other provisions ?-For five weeks we had plenty of ducks and during that time we used very little salt meat.
Q420. Could you not continue getting them ?-We tried, but the constant firing on those two water holes the ducks became shy; and in consequence of losing those horses and camels we could not go to the other water holes two or three miles off the creek.
Q421. Did you fish ?-On two occasions we caught some fish.
Q422. Did not the necessity of trying to make the provisions go as far as you could strike you ?-I did not think there was any fish at the time in the hole; we only got -a few very small fish.
Q423. Did you agree with Mr Brahe in the proposal to return at the time he did ?-When Mr Brahe referred to me at first, a, fortnight before we went, I said it might be as well to remain until the 1st of May, but then Patten was getting so bad; I knew him in my presence try to prevail upon Mr Brahe to return or he said he would not have any chance of recovering.
Q424. Patten said so ?-Yes; he had been in a very weak state for three weeks. I myself could have remained there, I think, with the usual exercise many weeks longer and yet have been able to come to the Darling.
Q425. [Pratt] Would you have had food enough, consuming the food at your station there, to return to the Darling ?-Yes; we could have stayed four weeks longer if we left nothing in the cache for Mr Burke.
Q426. Your great object was, then, to save Patten's life ?-That was, I presume, Mr Brahe's object. I had nothing to do with it. When he asked me, should we return, I said, "Of course, if it was a benefit to Patten to do so."
Q427. You did concur, then ?-Yes, I did then; when I was asked I made no objection against it.
Q428. Had you lost hope of Mr Burke's coming back ?-No; I was under the impression that be might have gone to Queensland though; but he never led me to suppose so.
Q429. Did that form the subject of conversation between you - the loss of hope ?-Wright was the only man who gave up hope.
Q430. [Pratt] What was the case with the others - did you all concur in thinking he would never come back ?-Yes, we concurred that he would not; we thought it was more probable. I thought it was more probable he had gone to Queensland, though I did not know. I had a conversation at one time on the Darling with Mr Burke with regard to clothing, and that led me to suppose there would be such a meeting at Carpentaria. In the first place, I heard. Professor Neumayer state, "I hope to meet you, Burke, in the vessel." On another occasion, when leaving the Darling, I was packing up Mr Burke's clothing, and he was rather short of clothing, for he was very careless in that respect; whenever there was a blackfellow he would throw him a shirt or something, and I gave him two flannel shirts of my own: "I do not care," he said, "McDonough, if I get on board the vessel with only a shirt on me, if I get through." Those were the only things I ever heard. I believe afterwards he did not expect a vessel, but he had led me to suppose on Cooper's Creek there would be probably a vessel to meet him at Carpentaria.
Q431. At Cooper's Creek ?-Yes, the last thing; I was packing up his shirts.
Q432. Even then he made use of that expression ?- "I do not care, McDonough," he says, "if I get on board the vessel with only a shirt on."
Q433. "So that I get through" ?- "So that I get through." He never told me distinctly that he did expect the vessel.
Q434. Was that the impression among the party ?-The general impression before we left Melbourne when speaking to my friends, but I never heard it stated by the committee, or any of the parties connected with it.
Q435. [Hervey] Was it the impression among the party on the way up, that they would be likely to be met by a vessel on the other side ?-He often spoke to Mr Brahe, but he contradicted it and said Mr Burke never thought there would be one. I told Mr Brahe of those two remarks I heard.
Q436. What did you say as to Mr Wright's desponding ? -He always gave him up as lost-"Neither gone to Queensland nor gone anywhere else; the man has rushed madly on depending upon surface water, and the man is lost in the desert." He never gave us any hope for him, in fact, so much so that I said I would wager. I offered to make a bet that he would be found at Queensland or turn up somewhere.
Q437. In the letter which was written to Dr Wills, by his son, Mr Wills states "the party we left here had special instructions not to leave until our return, unless from absolute necessity ?"-I know nothing more of the affair than I have said with regard to Mr Burke's instructions; he never told me what were Mr Brahe's instructions.
Q438. But it was corroborated by Mr Brahe's telling you the same thing ?-Yes, next morning.
Q439. [Sullivan] Were any of the provisions given away to the natives while you remained at Cooper's Creek ?-No, there might be a few biscuits, but not two dozen.
Q440. Do you know that Mr Wills said you were left with twelve months' provisions ?-Not unless Mr Wills meant that we should eat the horses and camels; he could not say that.
Q441. You think that not more than two dozen biscuits were given away ?-No, not to my knowledge, but I was sometimes out five hours together herding the camels, and of course I could not say what was done in my absence, but nothing was given away in my presence.
Q442. Did the blacks at Cooper's Creek alarm you much ?-No, I have been with them; the first time we met them at the depot camp the sepoy came in, in a very excited manner, and Mr Burke sent me out; the sepoy stated that the blackfellows were outside, he was trembling all over. I went out, I had my revolver and my gun out with me. There were about fifty of them, and they thought to feel my ribs to see if I was afraid, and I caught one and heaved him down and fired my revolver over his head and they ran away about one hundred yards distance.
Q443. Did you fire at them ?-No, only to frighten them.
Q444. Then you did not as a party feel any particular dread of them ?-No, I never felt any dread, of them; I knew they were cowardly and that a few shots would disperse them.
Q445. Did you feel as a party, as you were weak, that you were less able to defend yourselves ?-I was always able to defend myself until I went under Dr Beckler's treatment.
Q446. That had nothing to do with your leaving Cooper's Creek ?-No, it had not.
Q447. [Hervey] When Mr Burke left the Darling with his flying party did ho intend then to go right on to Carpentaria ?-He said that he intended to explore towards Eyre's Creek, and that he would run no great risk.
Q448. [Hervey] That was when you were leaving the Darling; with what object did he leave the Darling?-I think to send on six men right through, and send "two others back with a portion of the camels and horses, to meet Mr Wright." When he went to Cooper's Creek and found so many blacks there, he could not think of sending two men back; he left four and took four on.
Q449. When Mr Burke left the Darling, he intended to go right on to Carpentaria ?-As far as it was possible he could go.
Q450. That was his intention ?-Yes.
Q451. He went up with this flying party with that intention ?-He told me Brahe and the sepoy were to return with some of the camels and horses.
Q452. You were acquainted with Mr Burke's family at home ?-Yes.
Q453. Perhaps he was more confidential with you on that account ?-He had a great deal of confidence in me and often told me many things since he came out; he was a particular friend of mine.
Q454. When you joined Mr Wright's party at Bulloo, were you in tolerably good health ?-I was suffering from a kick I got in the knee, and my gums were sore, but I was well able to work. I rode three days and three nights thirty-three or thirty-four miles a day, and watched the horses and camels the greater part of the night, and got no more than two hours' sleep each night.
Q455. That was before you joined Mr Wright ?-Yes, on our way from Cooper's Creek to Bulloo, where we got no water. I got two of my teeth knocked out from a small fall from my horse.
Q456. Patten was very ill at the time ?-Yes, and we had to tie him on.
Q457. Was that the case with Botan ?-It was; subsequently he got ill.
Q458. What was the state of Mr Wright's party as well as you could observe, when you joined them ?-They were in the most wretched state, everything thrown about in the greatest disorder, so much so that it elicited the remark from Mr Wright, the favorable contrast of our little cavalcade, and he wondered how it could be kept in such order; he remarked how well our party was kept together while they could not keep a strap in its place.
Q459. What state of health did the men appear to be in ?-Smith was not able to work, and Belooch, the other sepoy, was not able to work.
Q460. Was that from illness ?-Through illness.
Q461. Dr Becker was sick then ?-He died the day after; Purcell and Stone were dead before.
Q462. Mr Wright, Mr Hodgkinson, Dr Beckler, and Dost Mahommed were able to work ?-Yes.
Q463. Smith was ailing and so was Belooch ?-Yes ; they were not required to keep watch at night even.
Q464 And Mr Brahe, yourself, and the other sepoy were able to work ?-Yes.
Q465. That makes six altogether who were in fair condition for work ?-Mr Brahe and the sepoy were in good condition. I was able to work any more than I had a little lameness. Smith was not so very weak. It was more through Dr Becker wishing to be gone. I know he was obliged to lay up.
Q466. But Smith and Belooch were not able to move about ?-They were not able to keep watch at night, which was very light work.
Q467. Did you notice the quantity of stores they had with them at all ?-I did, when Mr Brahe and Mr Wright left;
This was at Bulloo, I am speaking of - No; I do not know the quantity of stores then, but I did after the return to Cooper's Creek.
Q468. When you joined Mr Wright at Bulloo the whole party proceeded a day's journey backwards to Koorliatto ?-Yes, I believe so.
Q469. It was from that point Mr Brahe and Mr Wright went back ?-Yes, to Cooper's Creek.
Q470. Then you saw the provisions-that was the day after ?-Two or three days we were at Bulloo, until we buried Dr Becker: that was the time Mr Wright mentioned about our cavalcade having an imposing appearance.
Q471. And when you got to the next stage backwards, then Mr wright and Mr Brahe left to return to Cooper's Creek ?-Yes.
Q472. Then you had notice of the stores, you say; what had you noticed with regard to them ?-Mr Wright left me to re-adjust the loads on his return from Cooper's Creek, and I had to take notice of the animals and provisions, and I did take notice of them in my notebook, which I handed over; but, as far as I recollect, I can give it you:-700 lbs. of flour (but my impression is there were 800 lbs.), a great deal of rice - a couple of bags or more - a few bags brought back to the Darling were not used, but they gave flour to the sick camels long before we left Cooper's Creek, and Mr Wright gave some of the flour to the camels; and we had & great deal of clothing-any amount-as far as two or three pairs of trousers each the sepoys had.
Q473. Warm clothing ?-Warm clothing-cotton corded trousers and flannels (some not made into shirts but just in a bale), and a great deal of boots, seven or eight hams of bacon, and a great deal of sugar.
Q474. Any tea ?-Yes, tea; but I do not know how much, but not much coffee.
Q475. Did Mr Wright never think of sending back any of that clothing and stores to the depot ?-He did not, in fact he spoke very little to us: at the time he left to go back, my impression was that he wanted to go back to see the creek, and not with a view to relieve Mr Burke, simply that Mr Wright's object was to go and see Cooper's Creek. I am confident Mr Brahe was anxious to relieve Mr Burke.
Q476. That is your impression ?-Derived from his conversation.
Q477. How long do you suppose those provisions you have spoken of were likely to last the party ?-Say 700 lbs. of flour; there were only eight of us men; then a man could do with five pounds of flour a week with the rice.
Q478. How much rice was there ?-There must have been 150 lbs. or 200 lbs. of rice.
Q479. How much would you give with the 5 lbs. of flour if you were serving out a week's rations ?-Three lbs. of rice.
Q480. There was an ample quantity of sugar ?-A great deal of sugar.
Q481. Any meat ?-The jerked beef; but we had used that; the latter end of that when we reached the Darling.
Q482. At the time you speak of there was not a great deal of jerked beef ?-As much as would last for six weeks.
Q483. Did you bring all those stores hack with you to the Darling ?-Yes, everything.
Q484. Clothes and all ?-Yes; we used to give some flour and water to the camels.
Q485. Can you account in any way for the sickness that was in Mr Wright's party, with those ample provisions and stores ?-Scurvy; I do not know of anything else.
Q486. Were there any preserved vegetables ?-Yes, a great deal; we brought back plenty of preserved vegetables; it was left on the Darling, and I believe is there now.
Q487. Pickles ?-No; beans, fresh beans, not bottled pickles; there was a quantity made up in large packets of turnips and carrots.
Q488. Did you use any citric acid at Cooper's Creek ?-Yes.
Q489. Pretty constantly ?-We used it for five or six or eight weeks, as long as it lasted. We mixed it up with a little sugar and water just to give it an acid taste, because the water had a taste like iron or mineral and in order to give it an acid taste; we took it three times a day and used it as long as we had any.
Q490. You observed when you met Mr Wright's party that it appeared to be very disorganised ?-Yes.
Q491. Did you hear any conversation among the men accounting for the state of disorganisation in which they appeared to be ?Mr wright very frequently laid the blame on the men through negligence, not preserving ropes and straps and girths necessary for the expedition for tying on the packs.
Q492. Did they attribute it at all to the lateness with which they had started from the Darling ?-They did not.
Q493. Did you hear any reason given for your having been so delayed on the Darling ?-I stated that he wished to have his appointment confirmed by the committee and wanted more money to buy horses in consequence of those few horses being knocked up by Lyons and McPherson.
Q494. But you heard no complaint of the men of the delay in coming from the Darling ?-I heard Mr Hodgkinson say that he was very anxious to get on after Mr Burke.
Q495. You did not hear any blame attached to Mr Wright for not having pushed ahead before ?-No, but I blamed him myself; I remarked to him "you have both camels and horses."
Q496. Did you tell him Mr Burke expected him so soon ?-Yes.
Q497. What did he say ?-He said he waited because his appointment was not confirmed, and he wanted more money to buy more horses to carry up the provisions. He said "It is no good for me to run on with a few camels and horses."
Q498. Why did Mr Burke after reaching Cooper's Creek remain five weeks there, can you say ?-Yes.
Q499. What was it ?-He wanted to explore right to the north of Cooper's Creek where they struck it, to see if there was an available route more to the north-east of Mr Sturt's track in 1845, and he got three camels equipped for Mr Wills and me and instructed me to see to the stores to take on for a week, and accordingly Mr Wills and I started and went on for three days and on the third day we returned. During those three days Mr Wills calculated we had completed 100 miles; we returned about ten miles on the evening of the third day; it was just night fall when we came in to the camp, and we saw smoke to the right of us, the north-east of us, which Mr wills thought about twenty miles over the range, and he said "If we find any water in the valley we will go and see what is over here; it appears to me there is permanent water over there, they are blacks camping there because the smoke usually rose about four o'clock in the evening". When we came to the camp that evening the moon was rising and Mr Wills wanted to take an observation; I went to let out the camels; they were some of Coppin's camels; they were very much done up, and were not inclined to feed.
Q500. Were you without water at that time ?-Without water; we had some in the bags, but they were leaking; and when Mr wills was taking the observations I let out the camels and returned to cook our supper. Mr Wills had done taking observations and he came and both of us sat down to supper. I had one half of my supper eaten and I noticed the camels going into the scrub. I went and brought back the camels to within about thirty yards of our camp.
Q501. Were they hobbled ?-No, we had no hobbles then, Mr Landells had left them and said they were no use to them. I brought the camels within thirty yards of the camp; Mr Wills was done supper then; while I was finishing my supper, in about ten minutes, I went to look after the camels, and it was then dark, and I could not find them, and I called Mr Wills search of them. We searched until twelve o'clock at night and could get no trace of them. We returned to our camp, Mr Wills laid down and had a few hours sleep, and desired me to call him at two o'clock in the morning, and to make a few johnny cakes, for, he said "if we do not find the camels, if we do not get back we are lost." At two o'clock in the morning we went to a rise about fifteen miles off, which we reached a short time before day, thinking the camels might have camped during the night and that we might see them coming down the valley. Mr Wills looked through his opera glass but could not find any trace of the camels; it was then nine o'clock. We walked back to our camp and then traced their tracks about a mile, and saw their tracks down the valley, and we made up our swag. We had a little bread and water; we did not like to light a fire for fear of the blacks, so we made up our swag I had a large Colt's revolver, and thirty-five pints of water in a goatskin bag, Mr Wills had three or four johnny cakes and a Trenche's revolver, and some small instrument to take reckoning by.
Q502. A compass ?-A compass. We proceeded towards Cooper's Creek, and in about seven or eight miles we found a small pool of water, stagnant water, and we rested there about an hour, and drank a good deal of water, and filled the goatskin bag, and proceeded then, walking eight hours and resting four, till we reached Cooper's Creek.
Q503. Did you get any water ?-No; I had a goatskin bag full on my back.
Q504. None but what you carried ?-No, not the last thirty miles; and the last night we camped, we had not any, the goatskin bag leaked; I was done up myself, and Mr Wills too, in consequence of carrying this water bag.
Q505. That was one cause of detention for the five weeks ?-Yes; then it caused another Mr wills and King had to go back for those camels' saddles and other things that were there.
Q506. That caused another part of the delay ?-Yes, and we had to kill a horse and jerk the meat; that caused another delay, and the fitting out of the expedition during part of the time.
Q507. And all this time Mr Burke was making preparations for the start for Carpentaria ?-Yes.
Q508. So that he always had made up his mind, whether Mr Wright came up or not, to go to Carpentaria ?-He had; we were up the creek when Mr Wills and I went out; we went down afterwards. Mr Burke intended to follow out Mr Sturt's track at first.
Q509. With regard to the daily rationing of Wright's party, was it much larger than your party ?-There was no stint.
Q510. But was it actually under your observation larger much than yours ?-Not larger, because we all satisfied our hunger, but we had far better rations in his party; but on both occasions we always satisfied our hunger.
Q511. Are you aware whether, when Mr Wright and Mr Brahe went back to Cooper's Creek, they took any clothing with them to leave for Mr Burke in the event of his arrival ?-I never heard anything of it.
Q512. They did not take any clothing or any supplies back to leave there in the event of Mr Burke turning up ?-Nothing.
Q513. Mr Brahe informed us that he was unable to make any explorations to see whether Mr Wright was coming, or on Mr Burke's track, for fear of the natives - that he did not like, in fact, to leave the camp: there was some difficulty about that ?-I do not think he could make any explorations, because I was continually out after the horses, and another was continually out after the horses, except a few hours in the day, and there was no one to protect. the camp, and we never could be safe of them.
Q514. You never had any conflict with them; they never threw spears at you ?-No; we had a boundary line, and told them not to come further.
Q515. They never hurt the cattle ?-I heard Patten say once or twice, when the horses were hobbled, that they had them surrounded, and that they were knocked up sometimes as if they had been after hunting them, and on that account we took the hobbles off them.
Q516. The creek never ran while you were there ?-No.
Q517. Had you any heavy rains ?-Before Mr Burke started was the only heavy rain; a thunder storm for three or four hours which was pretty heavy, that was the only heavy rain we had.
Q518. From your observation of the road do you think that it would have facilitated the expedition if there had been a light cart with horses, instead of having nothing but animals to pack ?-I think a good strong spring cart and a good strong horse or two would be able to carry a great many things which it is hard to pack on horses or camels; but where there is no chance for a heavy wagon or bullock dray from the state of the ground, but a light, spring cart could go very well there during my time; but perhaps after heavy rain on Cooper's Creek it might be difficult to get to it, if there were very heavy rains.
[The Argus; The Chairman [Pratt] intimated that there were no more questions to be put]
Q519. Have you anything else you wish to say ?-I wish to make a remark on Dr Beckler's treatment of me and Patten. When I got under his charge I was quite able to work; in fact, after Mr Wright and Mr Brahe were gone, it was Hodgkinson and me put up all the tents, and put up the stockade, and got firewood and everything else that was required; and then Dr Beckler requested me to lay up till he had treated my knee. I laid up a week or six days, and he applied four different treatments; one time a lotion, another time warm water, and a third time cold water; and I did not believe he was doing me any good, and I thought to take exercise, and then I found the sinews of my leg all shrunk in. And Patten, I should say, was depending upon nothing but a pint of arrowroot morning and evening. Dr Beckler had tins of fresh meat that he never used for Patten, until Wright and some others used them a few days before they readied the Darling - some tins of mutton, I think there were five or six ,which were never given to Patten as far as I could see. Dr Beckler told me that Patten was recovering from scurvy, and, if so, he died from exhaustion and not from scurvy.
Q520. You had symptoms of scurvy yourself ?-Yes.
Mr. M'Donough then proceeded to say that he had seen in The Argus report that Mr. Brahe had said that he (M'Donough) had complained, while Paton did not. He wished that corrected.
Mr. STURT explained that Mr. Brahe had subsequently corrected himself.
The witness withdrew.
Mr Edward Wecker examined.
The next witness was Mr. Edward Wecker, storekeeper to Captain Cadell.
Q521. You have been living at Menindie ?-Yes, I have been.
Q522. For how long ?-For fifteen or eighteen months.
Q523. You did not belong to this exploring party ?-No, I was engaged by Captain Cadell as storekeeper there.
Q524. Do you happen to know what quantity of stores were brought to Menindie ?-I do not think any one in the party knew. A great part of the stores were left at Balranald; part of the stores were left on the road to it, and the stores brought there; there was never any inventory taken by the storekeeper of the party to show what amount of stores there were at Menindie.
Q525. You know that ?-I know that.
Q526. Therefore you do not know the quantity of stores ?-No.
527. Do you know the quantity of stores taken on by Mr Burke when he left ?-I did not see what quantity were taken; but I was informed by the doctor as well as by Mr Hodgkinson and other members of the party that stores were taken for twenty or twenty-four weeks.
Q528. For how many persons ?-For six people.
Q529. The stores that were brought to the Darling appeared to be a very large quantity ?-A very large quantity indeed.
Q530. Of all descriptions ?-Of all descriptions.
Q531. You say the quantity that was taken on by Mr Burke was sufficient for twenty-four weeks for six people? -That was taken on by Mr Burke when he started.
Q532. Do you happen to know when Mr wright started what quantity he took ?-I believe from what I heard sufficient for about twenty-four weeks, or six months provisions for his party, and they were full provisions.
Q533. Is it within your knowledge the quantity that was left after that ?-There is some part of it is known to me.
Q534. Tell me what you know ?-Half a ton of flour was left, or more than half a ton; there was some sugar left; there were some camels' shoes left; some water bags were left; there were some camel trunks containing saddlery and drapery, and a medicine chest with medicines for the camels and horses, as well as medicines for the party-for the men.
Q535. Did it at all come under your knowledge the cause of Mr Wright's detention at Menindie for so long a period ?-Yes, Mr Wright when coming up from Torowoto brought a despatch, which was sent to Melbourne.
Q536. On the 19th December ?-After the next mail; Mr wright came in, in November.
Q537. Do you recollect the date in November he came in ?-I believe he came in the 5th or the 7th, or somewhere thereabouts.
Q538. Then when did the next mail go ?-The next mail went a week after Mr Wright arrived, and I am certain the despatch went the very next mail.
Q539. How often is the mail despatched ?-Fortnightly. I was postmaster at Menindie, and feel quite certain as to the mails.
Q540. The date of Mr Wright's despatch, when he sent down the letter of Mr Burke's, is the 19th of December; that is the date of the despatch that he wrote when he forwarded Mr Burke's letter ?-That was the despatch that was sent after Mr Lyons arrived with the first despatch. It was before Mr Burke's despatch was sent down by the mail.
Q541. Mr Burke's letter was forwarded by Mr Wright at the same time, not by the mail ?-Not forwarded by Mr Wright, by Mr Hodgkinson.
Q542. Do you know that there was a despatch forwarded by the mail ?-I am pretty certain there was a despatch forwarded by the mail from Mr Wright.
Q543. How soon after his arrival would that be ?-A few days after his arrival he would post it; it was by the next mail after his arrival at Menindie. Mr Wright told me many times after he did not intend to start out till his appointment was confirmed by the committee in Melbourne. Dr Becker told me at different times that he (Becker) would not acknowledge Mr Wright as second in command until his appointment was confirmed, so Mr Wright did not live up at the camp; he lived at Kinchega, a station of Mr Baker's, until the appointment was confirmed.
Q544. We are in this difficulty, that it has been stated here already in evidence, and it so appears from the books of the committee, that Mr Burke's despatch, requesting that Mr wright might be appointed second in command, was not forwarded by Mr Wright from Menindie till the 19th of December, and was then forwarded by Mr Hodgkinson-that is, through him-and not by the mail, and that it did not arrive in Melbourne until the 30th of December ?-I am certain there must have been a previous despatch sent.
Q545. And you are under that impression from what he said to you ?-Yes, from what he said and from what I can remember.
Q546. Was it addressed to the Exploration Committee ? -Yes, or the secretary of the Exploration Committee.
Q547. And did you happen to understand from Mr Wright that that despatch contained. Mr Burke's letter requesting him to be appointed second in command ?-I understood it to contain that despatch from Mr Burke.
Q548. And did he also state to you after that, or at that time, that he was waiting to get his command confirmed ? -Yes, confirmed; and he was astonished that the command was not confirmed. He expressed it, not only to me but to different parties there, because every party was astonished at Mr Wright's conduct in staying so long at the Darling.
Q549. That was the general remark ?-That was the general remark-that it was a piece of folly of Mr Wright's to stop and let the season pass and go out in the summer, and Mr Wright on every occasion said he was waiting for his appointment to be confirmed by the committee in Melbourne.
Q550. Do you recollect when Mr Hodgkinson was sent down ?-Mr Hodgkinson was sent down to get permission to buy some horses and some stock.
Q551. Do you recollect the time when Mr Hodgkinson started from Menindie ?-Yes.
Q552. Was it previous to that you heard those remarks about Mr Wright's delay ?-No, it was after Mr Hodgkinson was despatched to Melbourne, after the arrival of Dick, the black-fellow, who arrived saying that Lyons and McPherson were at the creek. Then Mr Wright despatched at once the doctor to fetch them in, and then Mr Wright despatched immediately Mr Hodgkinson the same evening to Melbourne for the necessary supplies to start out.
Q553. And that was the 19th of December ?-Yes.
Q554. But you understood before that the despatch had gone ?-Yes, I understood that.
Q555. And he stated the reason why he let the good season pass was, that he had not received the confirmation of his appointment from the committee ?-Yes.
Q556. And you understood from Mr Wright that he had forwarded down a despatch, which, you suppose, contained Mr Burke's appointment of him as second in command ?-Yes.
Q557. Do you recollect having seen any document addressed to the honorary secretary previous to Mr Hodgkinson's going down ?-Yes, more than one. Mr Burke had sent down two or three despatches, and Dr Beckler had sent down some despatch, and there was a despatch of Mr Burke's went through the post.
Q558. You did not register those letters ?-Some of them were registered, some of them were not.
Q559. You have a clear recollection as to the one sent by Mr Wright, that you know of ?-Yes, I am pretty certain that the despatch was sent; in fact I can say that I have no doubt, not the slightest doubt, that his despatch was sent on the arrival of Mr Wright.
Q560. That was a despatch previous to Mr Hodgkinson's being sent down ?-Yes; Mr Wright said he wished to have the appointment confirmed by the committee so that he should have somebody to fall back upon for his pay, because the name of the committee at the time was in great discredit in consequence of small cheques that had been given, being dishonored.
Q561. Cheques on the committee ?-On the National Bank. Amounts so small as £1 and 30s., which were in circulation on the Darling, were dishonored.
Q562. Whom were they drawn by ?-By Mr Burke; and Mr wright was very anxious to get a document in his hand which would give him a hold on the committee to get his pay.
Q563. Do you happen to know if any of the other gentlemen distinctly objected to allow Mr Wright to have any control until his appointment was confirmed ?-Yes, I happen to know that; it was in my presence it was said so.
Q564. Whom were those cheques you allude to given to ?-They were given to various people; some were in circulation to the carters who were bringing goods over from Balranald and to people for provisions, such as hay and so on, and to a publican; and Mr Burke gave a cheque to a party below at the Darling, and the cook of the party, when he was dismissed, he got a cheque, and there were small expenses incurred, and those cheques were issued for them.
Q565. Do you remember whether you were present when they were curing some beef there ?-Yes, I was present on two occasions, in fact the only beef that was cured there.
Q566. Are you able to recollect the mode they adopted for curing the beef ?-Yes.
Q567. What was it ?-Jerking it, cutting the bones out of it, and the fat off it, and hanging it up on strings across from trees.
Q568. Did they simply depend, upon drying it by the atmosphere ?-Simply depending upon drying it by the atmosphere.
Q569. What was the cause of the failure ?-I believe the meat was cut in too thick slices and I believe the hot winds and heavy dews that fell upon the meat caused the meat to spoil! Jerked meat ought to be covered at night, or during hot winds.
Q570. Had they lost the whole of that meat ?-The greatest part of their meat they lost.
Q571. You say Mr Wright was generally blamed for losing so much time ?-Yes.
Q572. Allowing the summer to come on him ?-Yes, he was generally blamed by all parties for losing so much time in starting out, but that was his excuse always. He was waiting the confirmation of his appointment.
Q573. Can you speak as to the condition of the camels and the horses when Mr wright returned on the 5th of November ?-Mr Wright only brought horses back, he did not bring any camels back.
Q574. The question alludes to the animals that were left on the Darling ?-They were in very good condition. And they would have been in condition to have formed at once and started ?-To have formed at once and started; there was no objection to Mr Burke starting at once from the Darling to take the whole party, -which was also rather astonishing to parties there, that Mr Burke should leave a depot at the Darling.
Q576. Could provisions be obtained at Menindie at that time apart from what the exploration party had ?-Yes; any amount of provisions, to equip any party.
Q577. At Menindie ?-Yes; I had a store up there, Captain Cadell's store, and had something like five or six tons of flour in store and four or five tons of sugar, and plenty of tea, every necessary to equip the expedition, in fact all the vegetables Mr wright took out came mostly from Captain Cadell's store.
Q578. And they might have fitted themselves out with any amount, to last a long time, for a large number ?-Yes; in fact there was a steamer up at the same time, if I would not have had enough provisions the steamer could have supplied 20 tons of flour or any amount of provisions.
Q579. Is it not the fact that the refusal to accept those small cheques arose from the want of small change in the neighborhood, and is not it true that the longer cheques were all honored and the name of the committee was considered quite good for the large cheques and that the true reason for the refusal of the small cheques was the want of small change ?-I believe not alone the small ones but the large ones as well, were considered as bad.
580. Were they dishonored ?-To my knowledge they were.
Q581. Do you mean were they dishonored up there or in Melbourne ?-In Melbourne on being sent down here, cheques to any amount as high as £10 were dishonored on being presented at the National Bank, I know that is a fact; it did not happen to me because I sent my cheques down and I did not send my money direct to Adelaide or Melbourne, I sent the money over through Wentworth, but the storekeeper in Wentworth sent his money down and his cheques were returned.
Dr Macadam stated that he was aware that a sum of money was placed in the Bank to meet cheques presented and it was thought advisable that the drawing of cheques should be reported to the treasurer that he might see that they were correct, that the arrangement of the cheques was changed, and during that transition in two or three cases of the cheques were presented and refused by the bank, but there was not any deficiency of money in the treasurer's hands.
Q582. To Mr Wecker. -It was owing to the fact of those cheques being dishonored and the credit of the committee being bad that there was a difficulty in buying anything with cheques of the committee ?-It was; I was in fact authorised not to take any more, and I did not take any more, I could not have taken them at a discount.
Mr McDonough. -I know that Tom Paine, the storekeeper and publican at Menindie, honored Mr Wright with any credit he asked him, and some of these bills were not paid until a few months ago, at least until Paine sent his account in, in which he was in no hurry, and he had said he was quite satisfied by being paid by the committee.
Q583. To Mr Wecker. -Do you think the fact of those cheques being refused interfered in any way with the action of the expedition ?-I think it interfered so much with Mr wright that he would not go out until he had actually his appointment confirmed, so that he would have a hold upon the committee.
Q584. Did Mr Wright ever mention that he had so written to the committee, that he required his appointment to be confirmed before he would set out ?-Yes, certainly.
Q585. Was Mr Wright well acquainted with that country ?-Mr Wright was well acquainted with the country between Torowoto and the Darling.
Q586. Do you know how he employed himself from the 11th of November to the 19th of December ?-He was staying at Mr Baker's station, where he had been superintendent, but the station was sold.
Q587. Was he employed in any way ?-No, he was not employed; the station was sold to Mr McGregor, and Mr McGregor had taken charge of the station.
Q588. Was the station sold before Mr Wright went ?-Yes.
Q589. Then he was in fact unemployed when he left with Mr Burke ?-Yes.
Q590. Are you quite certain Mr wright stated that he had himself written to the committee by that post ?-Yes.
Q591. Requesting his appointment to be confirmed ?-I am quite certain of that.
Q592. And intimating that he would not start until his appointment had been confirmed ?-I am quite certain of it.
Q593. Not only that, but you recollect seeing the letter ?-Yes, I recollect seeing the letter.
Q594. Was it a letter or a package ?-A letter.
Q595. A single letter ?-Yes, a single letter.
Q596. Do you recollect forwarding a number of reports of Drs Beckler and Becker ?-Yes, perfectly well.
Q597. That was a separate thing, was it not ?-Yes, quite separate, and had nothing to do with it.
Q598. Then if it was reported that Mr wright was engaged on the station with cattle and various things occupying his time during this delay, that would not be correct?-No, that would not be true; there was a dispute about the station; the station was sold, but a dispute arose about the paying for it, and the party whom the station was sold to took forcible possession, so that Mr wright was ejected from the station, and was only living there by the indulgence of the party who took possession of it.
Q599. Can you, then, account in any way for Mr Wright's delay in starting, except the want of the confirmation of his appointment ?-It was his want of confirmation of his appointment.
Q600. And nothing else that you know of ?-No; in fact, there could not be anything else.
Q601. Then when the confirmation of his appointment was received about the 10th or 11th of January, are you aware that he then did not start till the 29th ?-Yes, because he had to await the return of Dr Beckler with Lyons and McPherson.
Q602. And he also had to purchase horses ?-Yes, he had also to purchase horses.
Q603. The time was expended in waiting for those people, and purchasing horses ?-Yes.
Q604. Had not some of the horses been lost or died on the expedition with Dr Beckler ?-Yes, there were two horses died, or three horses died, with Lyons and McPherson.
Q605. Which rendered it necessary for Mr Wright to buy more ?-Yes.
Q606. What distance had he to go to purchase horses ?-No distance at all; he purchased most of his horses at Menindie, from Mr Paine.
Q607. Which would not have taken more than a day or two ?-Not half a day.
Q608. Was it the general opinion that that delay was unnecessary, after having been so long delayed already, and every person being quite aware that every such delay made the season less favorable, do you think that there should have been that additional delay after the authority was received, and after the money was received ?-There was no delay after the authority was received.
Q609. You think the delay from the 11th to the 29th of January was imperatively necessary ?-Yes; there was no more delay.
Q610. What day of the week do you despatch the mails, were they the same last year as they are this year ?-Yes, just the same.
Q611. What day of the week; is it on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday ?-The mails arrive on Fridays and are despatched on Tuesdays-every fortnight.
Dr. Macadam said he had just received a telegram from Mr. Wright, in which that gentleman offered to come to Melbourne, and give evidence before the commission, for£100, which would pay his expenses and compensate him for loss of employment in taking a quantity of sheep a long way up the country.
After some conversation, Dr Macadam stated that he had found the letter referred to by Mr Wecker as having been sent by Mr Wright before Mr Hodgkinson started for Melbourne, but it was Mr Burke's despatch from Torowoto, asking that the appointment of Mr Wright might be confirmed.
Mr Wecker. -I did not say that Mr Wright wrote the letter, but only that he sent it-I know that Mr Wright could not write.
The witness withdrew.
John Macadam, Esq., M.P., further examined.
Q612. In this letter, dated 19th October, 1860, Mr Burke states-"Mr Wright returns from here to Menindie; I informed him that I should consider him third officer of the expedition-subject to the approval of the committee-from the day of our departure from Menindie, and I hope they will confirm the appointment." Was this letter accompanied by any letter from Mr Wright asking for confirmation of the appointment ?-None.
Q613. What action was taken by the committee on this letter that was received by them on the 3rd of December, with reference to that appointment ?-I find that this letter arrived-with a number of despatches on the 3rd December. Perhaps I might be allowed to read a quotation that bears on the subject, "Mr Wright returns from here to Menindie; I informed him that I should consider him third officer of the expedition-subject to the approval of the committee-from the day of our departure from Menindie, and I hope they will confirm the appointment. In the meantime I have instructed him to follow me up with the remainder of the camels to Cooper's Creek, to take steps to procure a supply of jerked meat, and I have written to the doctor to inform him that I have accepted his resignation, as, although I was anxious to await the decision of the committee, the circumstances will not admit of delay, and he has positively refused to leave the settled districts." The committee considered that Mr wright would unquestionably have left immediately, and that any letter which might be sent, the one taking about a fortnight to come and the other a fortnight to return, would make in the whole a month, and that any letter would not find him there, especially from the statement of Mr Burke-"In the meantime I have instructed him to follow me up with the remainder of the camels to Cooper's Creek.". Then Mr Wright himself, in the first despatch we ever had from him, which is marked here No. 1, written for him by Mr Hodgkinson and signed by Mr Wright, is dated the 19th December. I merely wish to show the confirmation of the appointment that was dwelt upon, was not at all entertained by Mr Wright or communicated to us as necessary. If he had accompanied the first despatch by a letter/saying he would not start till he received the confirmation of that appointment, it would have been immediately acted upon. On the 19th of December Mr Wright says- "I have the honor to inform you that pursuant to a previous understanding with Mr Burke, it was my intention to rejoin that gentleman with the members of the party and stores at present in this camp." Showing that it had nothing to do with the confirmation of the appointment. Then he says- "I delayed starting merely because the camels (9) left behind by Mr Burke were too few in number and too inferior in carrying powers to carry out a really serviceable quantity of provisions."
Q614. And the delay then was not from the want of his appointment being confirmed ?-No, it was not in consequence of that. His appointment was confirmed when Mr Hodgkinson came down, because then the committee found themselves in the position of being able to send a letter; that is recorded in the letter of the committee of the 31st of December.
Q615. How long after Mr Hodgkinson's arrival did he start back on his return; that is how long did he remain here ? -Two days.
Q616. And he carried back the confirmation with him ?- He carried back the confirmation with him.
Q617. And money also ?-Yes, and money also. Then at the conclusion of the letter, in reply to Mr Wright, there is this paragraph, "In conclusion, it is hoped that your endeavors to remove the stores from the present depot to Cooper's Creek will be early and accomplished."
Q618. There was no enquiry made there why he had not complied with the instructions ?-No; this is the first time I have ever heard anything about the non-confirmation of the appointment interfering in any way. He never mentioned it in any manner, and the committee could scarcely hope from Mr Burke's communication that he would be found at Menindie.
Q619. And therefore they did not think it necessary to go into the question of why he delayed ?-That arose I think from the great hurry at the moment. Mr Hodgkinson coming to town, and the good season passing away, and the necessity therefore for speed.
The witness withdrew.
Adjourned to Thursday next [5 December 1861], at twelve o'clock.