25th December 1860.
Decb 25. 60
Believing that you are by this time in the Possession of the full particulars of the failure of the troopers Lyons & the saddlers McPhersons attempt to reach Mr Burke I confine my communication on this point only to what has taken place since Mr Hodginson left Minindie for Melb: with letters from Mr Wright. The last fortnightly mail which arrived at Minindie on the 20 inst. brought no letters for us - we are without letters or papers from Melbourne since Oct 18!
Mr Wright at once resolved to relieve the sufferers & as that brave and gallant native guide Dick was still unable to walk & under treatment here in the camp another blackfellow has engaged, and on the morning of the 21 Decb Dr Beckler with Beludge, the native from Hindostan, with Peter the black guide and with 3 camels & one horse set out to assist & bring back the 2 confined men now living among friendly natives in a well watered country about 200 miles to the north. We expect the whole party back in about 14 days.
We have no news from Mr Burke, and Mr Wright is afraid that Mr Burke pushed on too fast & too far so that he now might be, to some extent, in want of fresh provisions which we have in store for him, awaiting only a number of horses from the main-party, to fetch the stores up to Cooper's Creek. However, Lyons misfortune frustrated the plan. Mr Wright engaged for the Expl. Exped. two men, the one is here Catching the camels, the other as cook and assisting me in working for the camp of which I am now temporarily in charge.
I enclose five sketches, one is representing Dick, the young man who walked above 100 miles under great privations to bring the sad news to our camp. Mr Wright thinks him worth the consideration of the Exploration Committee. The explanations of the rest of my sketches will follow, also the continuation of my 'notes by the way', accompanied with my meteorological tables, containing above 2,000 single observations of which not a few are rare or new.
Hard work in the camp, want of vegetables & of fresh meat, great heat with flies & moskitos -are not apt to support one whose greatest desire is to try to unveil some of the mysteries of this country. Besides these every-days-sufferings I am blessed now, in consequence of the sting of an insect, with the swelling blight; and for a whole nights watch in the camp during a thunderstorm & a cold rain I was paid with a severe cold. I only mention these personal incidents, because they will excuse me for being so far behind with my communications.