Parallana, 4 June 1862.
Original item held at the State Library of Victoria, SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5a, Items 27-8.
Received by the Exploration Committee in Melbourne on 25 June 1862.
This despatch also included:
• List of stores required after August 1862 prepared by Alexander Aitken. 7p.
• Dr James Wheeler's medical report, dated Cooper's Creek, 15 May 1862. 1p. 2085/5b, Item 4.
• Transcription of a note buried by John McKinlay at Burke's grave.
Box 2085/5a, Item 27
Jacob's Station, Paralana, S.A.,
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 14th April, with the journals, maps, &c , enclosed.
From the enclosed lists, prepared by Mr Aitkin, the storekeeper to the party, will be seen the exact position of the party as regards stares and equipments; but, to state briefly the main points, we have stores in hand for this party up to the first week of September, exclusive of two months' supply for twelve men in reserve. Should it be necessary for the party to remain out longer than the end of August, it would be imperative to send up, without delay, a further supply of stores from Adelaide, via Port Augusta, according to the scale of rations in use with us, and also such things as are entered in the enclosed list as necessary for the party.
As regards the heavy articles, as flour and sugar, &c, it would be the safest plan for them to be forwarded from Port Augusta, as it is only by a lucky chance that such articles can be obtained up here in any quantity. I behove that from this date to the end of August would be ample time for the goods to reach here; the authorities in Adelaide could be communicated with by telegraph, and would no doubt send off supplies without delay.
I expect to reach tho depot about the 7th of this month, to return to the depot, from a trip to the north about the 14th July, and to reach Blanchewater somewhere towards the end of August -provided that I do not receive further instructions, and that the road is not actually impracticable.
It will be seen that l have referred to the subject of marked trees, &c, in the letter accompanying my diary.
As regards the paragraph which runs - that the committee would regard it as advantageous that I should connect the good country of Burke with the settlements,' I feel that it is best to offer a few remarks, based on the knowledge I have gained of the country in the interior, as I have felt...
some difficulty as to which settlements the committee referred to - those on the Darling or those of South Australia. If it is desired that the route should be sought for in connexion with the New South Wales and Queensland settlements, north of the Darling, it would be necessary to commence higher up Cooper's Creek; and I must say that the country northward is of a most unpromising appearance. It would, moreover, take more time than I could spare from the depot, and would necessarily have to be postponed until the final breaking up the depot at Cooper's Creek. In respect to the second route from those settlements (SA), a great deal has already been done towards finding a route; and I think that, in favourable seasons, very little difficulty would be found in taking stock as far as I have seen the country - namely, about lat. 26 deg. 40 min, and lon. 140 deg. 20 min. At present, both those routes are impracticable for stock. The great obstacle to a direct route will be found to lie in a great extent of stony hills and tablelands lying north of Cooper's Creek, into which the late Mr Wills penetrated for ninety miles, and which I have traced northward to where he turns westward into Sturt's Desert. I shall be glad to hear further from tho committee on this subject, and shall, in the meantime, endeavour to obtain as much information of the country to the north of our depot as possible. Should the committee consider it advisable for me to explore tho country more fully after the depot is broken up, it would be best for the party to come down us far as Lake Hope, and make such repairs as will be absolutely necessary. I expect by that time that Messrs. Dean and Hack will be settled at that place.
I have communicated with the Crown Lands Commissioner in Adelaide respecting stores.
I have the honour to be, sir,
The Hon. Secretary to the Exploration Committee, Melbourne.
Stores &c required by the V E Party after August 1862.
[One page list of stores]
Statement of stores on hand and equipment
[Three page list of stores, signed Alexander Aitken]
The provisions on hand, together with those intended to be brought from Blanchewater, are calculated to supply this party till the 7th of September, leaving as a reserve for any parties coming from tho north eight weeks rations for twelve men, according to the scale used in this party.
The clothing is reserved for the use of parties expected from the north.
The equipment is all serviceable for six months, with repairs which can be made here; after which time it would probably require to be taken into some of the settled districts for repair, when nearly the whole of it could be again rendered "serviceable."
Jacob's Station, Paralana, S.A.
I have the honour to inform you that I have drawn the following orders, made payable in Adelaide.
I have the honour to be, sir,
No. 61. - May 20 - Frank (wages) £6.
Box 2085/5a, Item 28
Jacobs's Station, Paralana, SA.
I have the honour to report my arrival here on 3rd June, with part of the Victorian exploring party, having left Cooper's Creek on 17th May. Messrs. Wauchup and Poynter, of the South Australian mounted police, arrived at the depot on the 12th May, having made a most creditable journey, in the short space of seven days, via Stretzki's Creek. They accompanied me as far as Blanchewater on my way down. The journey down to the settlements was not marked by anything of importance, and I regret to say that, from the rapid evaporation of the rain-water, this route will be attended with great difficulty until further heavy rains have fallen, or until the flood now coming down Cooper's Creek has reached the extensive lake country N and NE of Lake Hope.
It is with great pleasure that I may report the health of the party to boon the whole excellent; ophthalmia and other minor evils have been more general than we could have wished, but these are diseases which are only of temporary inconvenience. Our great enemy, scurvy, as, I am happy to say, disappeared, as I anticipated.
I enclose my diary up to the date of leaving the depot, and charts of the route followed by mo from the South Australian settlements to Cooper's Creek, and of the short journey I have lately made to the N.
I have found a rumour prevalent over a very large extent of country, to the effect that McKinlay's party were prevented from proceeding; or returning by some large flooded creek or river, which, from the account given by tho natives, and the direction pointed out by them, appears to be Wills' Creek, on the north side of the desert. On my return to the depot I propose making a second journey to the N, and shall endeavour to cross the desert, and obtain some more reliable information.
A note buried by Mr McKinlay, at Burke's grave, runs as follows...
Yeinna Meinca, Cooper's Creek,
To the Leader of the Party out for the remains of the late Messrs. Burke and Wills, but more especially to the officers in charge of the depot likely to be formed on this creek.
I beg to state that I had communication with Adelaide, and have received papers from that city intimating the relief of King, the only survivor of the Melbourne Gulf of Carpentaria party, and an announcement that the Melbourne Government were likely to have tho remains of the deceased gentlemen removed from this creek to Melbourne to receive a public burial, and a monument to their memory, and at the same time stating their intention of establishing a depot on this creek, to await the arrival of one or other of the parties out in search of the late Burke and party from Rockhampton or the Albert, on the Gulf of Carpentaria. I beg to state I am, with my party, stationed at a lake about eighty-five (85) miles westerly of this; and immediately on my return there l start to the northward, and for the first part of my journey a little to the east of north; and will at every suitable camp on my route bury documents, conveying the intelligence meant to be conveyed to either of the parties, by the depot party likely to be formed here, of the fate of the late party ; by which means they will be put in possession of the facts, and can return to the Albert or go through to Adelaide. There is at present, and will be for some time to come, easy access to Adelaide by my route, which the wheel tracks of my cart have dearly defined. By this means of instruction to the parties in question, it will relieve the party about to be stationed here from the necessity of passing a summer in this hot region.
My course will intersect any course southward. Either of the parties out northward and make between Eyre's Creek and the late Burke's depot on this creek.
I beg to remain, sir,
On my last journey to the N, I buried two notes, stating that the Victorian exploring party's depot bad been formed at Cooper's Creek, and that stores were ready there for any of the parties now out. The first of these notes I buried at Appanparrow, the second at Kyejerou (permanent water). At both of these places our track and Mr McKinlay's dray track follow the same I course. Any parties coming from the desert would most probably follow the dray track, and would find our fresh tracks loading direct to our depot. I have buried despatches at such places down Cooper's Creek as will ensure their being found by any parties coming in. On my proposed journey towards tho desert I intend burying information regarding our depot at numerous places, and also charts of the present tracks into the South Australian settlements via Like Hope.
I have left instructions with the depot party to have proper marks made on the creek upwards, although I am afraid they will be of little service, our track being now mostly under water, from the flood. Should the water still continuo to rise, it will be no easy matter to return by tho old track; but I thrill make a short trip up the creek before coming in again, and shall obtain precise information. In consequence of the fresh arrangements, I have found it necessary to defer sending in tilt remains of the late explorers until a later period.
I have tho honour to be, sir,
The Hon. John Macadam, M.D., Honorary Secretary Exploration Committee.
May 15, 1862,
A. Howitt, Esq.,
I beg to submit tho customary medical report, which embraces an interval of about ten weeks, from the 3rd March - the date of my last - to the present time.
During this period, I find that diseases of an acute inflammatory type preponderated. Amongst these may be noticed three very severe cases of febrile catarrh, one of otitis, and a few minor cases of phlegmon. The most severe and general affection which appeared was a form of acute ophthalmia (conjunctival), which assumed an epidemic form, attacking every member of the camp - with but two exceptions - and running a very painful course of from three to fifteen days. It is now happily disappeared, leaving no unpleasant sequences. The few cases of diarrhoea and eolio which required my assistance were very amenable to treatment.
Scurvy has all but disappeared, notwithstanding the absence of native vegetables and merely nominal supply furnished by our garden. I The pretty liberal supply of fresh animal food, and tho temperate, dry, and sunny 'weather we enjoyed, have, no doubt, mainly contributed to this result.
In conclusion, the general health of the party is at present excellent, and would bear a favourable comparison with its sanitary condition at the date of my last report.
I have the honour to remain, sir,