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Angipena, 2 September 1862.

Original item held at the State Library of Victoria, SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5a, Item 29.
Dispatches sent by members of the Victorian Relief Expedition to the Exploration Committee.
Alfred Howitt's dispatch, [Parallana], 4 June 1862.

 

Received by the Exploration Committee in Melbourne on 19 September 1862.
This despatch also included:

  • Report from Alexander Aitken to Howitt, Cooper's Creek, 14 August 1862. 9p. Box 2085/5a, Item 29.
  • Dr James Wheeler's medical report, dated Cooper's Creek, 15 August 1862. 1p. 2085/5b, Item 5.

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Angepina Police Station
S.A.
Sepr 2/62

Sir,
Referring to that portion of your despatch of August 18th in which you state that it is the wish of the committee that as many of the camels as possible should be left in the far north, I beg to inform you that I shall on my way back make such inquiries as may facilitate a final arrangement when I come in with the whole party. I shall be prepared to leave all the camels in this district, but I foresee some difficulty in finding a place where they can be left. The part of the country most suited to them, is from Manuwalkaninnie, down past Blanchewater, as there an abundance of camel-feed; but it is possible that Mr Baker's manager may not feel inclined to take charge of them. I could leave them at this place (Angipena), with the police, for which the consent of the South Australian Government could no doubt be obtained; but the country is not well suited to them, being deficient in bushes, and very rough and hilly. They might, however, do here in default of a better place, and I should feel sure that they would be carefully looked after. I presume that the committee have taken into consideration that probably something would have to be paid for their run, and that it would require at least one steady, intelligent man and a horse to look after them. I do not know whether any of my party would be inclined to take the situation, but I think it doubtful, I should, therefore, be glad to have a reply to the following questions:

1st - Whether anything is to be paid for the run of the camels?
2nd - The amount of wages to be given to a man engaged especially to look after them. I consider the situation would be equal to that of a head stockman, whose wages up here would be from 25s to 30s per week.

Should it meet the views of the committee, I should recommend that I should be authorized to sell such of the horses as I may be able, in this district and on the way down. They would probably bring better prices than they would if sold in Adelaide after a long journey. They are known up here, and I have had offers for several at prices but little lower than what I gave for them on the Murray. One difficulty...

 
     

 

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would be the pack saddles, but I should make it a point to sell each horse as he stood in his harness. I think it possible that I might dispose of a number of the horses in this manner. The remainder could be easily disposed of on reaching Adelaide. I have now forty-one returned by Mr Welch, and four killed for beef, make up the number I took from Menindie. I shall hope to hear from the committee on this subject at Blanchewater, to which place a fortnightly mail goes from here. Letters for me ought to be in Adelaide by the 8th of October, when they would reach Blanchewater in time.

I shall in going back purchase a few things we require- canteens, hobblechecks &c., and some presents for the natives, King's friends &c.

I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your most obedient servant,
A W Howitt, Leader VEP.
The Hon. John Macadam, Hon. Secretary, Exploration Committee, Melbourne.

 
     

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Angipena Police Station, S.A.
Sep 2/62

Sir,-I have the honour to report my arrival at Blanchewater on 27th August, with a detachment of the party and twenty horses. Not finding any despatches at that place, as I had fully expected, I was compelled to proceed to Angipena, a distance of 120 miles. It is unfortunate that this should have been necessary, as it will frustrate the arrangements I had made with the depot party to meet me on my return with a supply of water, and in the present state of drought, when summer already seems to have set in, the ninety miles without water, with loaded horses over a heavy country, becomes rather a serious matter.

On arriving it Angipena yesterday, I found that Messrs Wauhope and Poynter had just started for Cooper's Creek with despatches, but one of the police overtook them within a few miles.

I shall return to Blanchewater on the 4th, where I expect to find everything ready for our return to the depot. I had intended taking back with us eight weeks' supply, but in consequence of the continued drought, the heavy country to travel over, and the uncertainty about finding a supply of water where I had arranged to have been met, I shall reduce the amount of loading to a month's supply. On reaching Cooper's Creek it will be necessary to give the horses I have now brought down a spell, before again facing the direct route to Lake Hope. All of the other rain waters are now dry. I shall leave a supply of stores at the depot, which will be amply sufficient to carry a party of twelve men into the settlements, allotting for a fortnight's spell on the creek, if necessary I shall also bring a chart of the track and other information. As far as I can see at present, it will be some where at the end of October that I shall again reach Blanchewater with the whole of my party.

I have to report to the committee the loss of one of...

 
     

 

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the male camels, the particulars of which will be found in my diary. It is an accident that I foresaw, and reported to the committee in my last journey (the Contingent Exploring Party), from the very restless state of the male camels when I left I now feel anything but easy on their account. A search is still being made, but from the direction in which the camel was traced, into the stony hills N and E of the depot, from the time that has elapsed, and from the facts of the Cooper s Creek natives not having seen anything of him, I have small hopes of his being found.  I shall most probably on my return make a last search up the creek, taking with me two of the Cooper's Creek natives, and as we are on very friendly terms, and as I am able to communicate with them in their own language, it is possible we may hear something from other natives higher up the creek.

On my return to the depot from my last journey to Blanchewater I at once prepared to start for the north, and left on July 3rd, taking one of the Creek natives with me, and afterwards one from Kyejerou, who professed to know tho country north of the desert It will be seen that I was unable to obtain any reliable information as to Mr McKinlay's movements, but I am of opinion that the information obtained from the last natives we saw was correct, and that he has gone to the NE.

The tract I followed across the desert is the one made use of by the natives of Lake Hope, Cooper's Creek, and Kyejerou, on their journeys to procure the pitchery so much used by them as a narcotic, and on this account, I conclude that it is the shortest known to them.

It will be seen from my diary, and from Mr Aitkin's report, that the Cooper's Creek flood has ceased running - fortunately without reaching our waterhole, as the last few miles of the flood are too salt for use, being the old water from various pools. It is with great pleasure that I can report the health of the party is most satisfactory, as will be seen from Dr Murray's report; and everything at the depot, excepting the loss of the camel, was as I could wish when I left. It is to be hoped that the continued drought at Cooper's Creek may cease before our final return. I enclose my diary, charts of my second journey to the north, and of the direct track to Lake Hope, Dr Murray's medical report, and a short report from Mr Attkins respecting the flood.

I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your most obedient servant,
A W Howitt,
Leader V.E P.

The Hon  J Macadam, MD, Hon. Secretary Exploration Committee, Melbourne.

 
     

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