Friday, 20 June 1862, page 2.
THE FAR NORTH
We have received a copy of the journal kept by Corporal Wauchope during his recent expedition to and from Cooper's Creek.
That officer was entrusted with despatches at the end of April last, to convey on behalf of the Victorian Government to Mr Howilt, the explorer who had been sent from Melbourne to bring down the remains of the unfortunate Burke and Wills. The Corporal appears to have executed his task promptly and successfully, though he suffered considerably from want of water and feed for his horses during a part of his journey between Blanchwater and Cooper's Creek. This resulted apparently from his having taken the old route by way of Strzelecki's Creek instead of that which had lalely been opened through the Lake Hope country. We find that he went by the one route and came back by the other, and his journey, so far as it can be taken as evidence in the matter, goes to prove that undoubtedly the most suitable line of communication between the Far North of this colony and the country watered by Cooper's Creek is by way of Lake Hope. This bears out the impression derivable from Mr Howitt's account of his recent journey down Strelitzki Creek into this colony. He found that journey a very trying one, and gave a less favourable statement concerning the country than Gregory did after his expedition some four or five veare ago. Mr Howitt was so badly impressed with the Strehtzki Creek route that he returned from Blanchewater to his depot at Cooper's Creek by way of Lake Hope, and now we find Corporal Wauchope has been induced by similar experience to adopt a similar course. He also went one way and returned by another.
The corporal appears to have been induced to start upon his expedition along the old route by the evil counsel of a certain 'Charley' - a blackfellow 'who professed to know a large waterhole at the end of Strelitzki Creek.' But when the party got to the creek it turned out that Charley 'knew nothing at all about the country; he had only heard other natives tell about the waterhole.' However, Charley was found to be useful as a guide, and with some little difficulty the country was passed through in safety. But the horses suffered considerably. On the sixth day of the journey the diary stutes us follows: 'Found the horses this morning close to where we left them. They were standing with their heads in the only green bush we could see for miles. I never saw horses look so bad as they did. They looked more like starved greyhounds than anything else. It was truly wretched to look at their misery. We had to walk about two thirds of the way, the horses were so weak; and it was no light work to lead two knocked up horses over high sandhills and earthy plains, with cracks from three to six feet deep, and not more than six inches apart. I thought at one time we should have had to leave them and finish the journey without them. We reached Cooper's Creek a little after sundown, having been eleven hours travelling twenty-six miles.'
After resting a few days at Cooper's Creek, Mr Wauchope started with Howitt and his party, and returned to this colony by the Lake Hope route. The country is described as easily passable, and appears to have been much better in respect of grass and water than the country by Strelitzki Creek. The only difficulty experienced in the course of this return journey scorns to have been some little trouble, on first starling, to get the horses accustomed to Mr Howitt's camels. But this difficulty did not last long, and the rival quadrupeds completed their journey most amicably. It is not stated why Mr Howitt and his party have returned to this colony. We understand that they have not yet attempted to bring down the remains of the deceased explorers, and therefore the sole object of their expedition is still as far as ever from being accomplished. Probably tbe despatches which Corporal Wauchope took to Mr Howitt have caused some change to be made in the intended arrangements.
The country in the Far North generally is reported as dried up. But 'a very strong body of water' was slowly coming down Cooper's Creek when Corporal Wauchope was there, in the middle of May. With regard to Mr McKinlay's expedition, rumours were prevalent amongst the natives that the whole party were camped to the west of Lake Hope, all well, and preparing for a final start upon their explorations to the north and north-west. One matter concerning which much useful experience will be obtained through the journeys now taking place in the extreme north is the extent to which camels may be used in those distant parts of the colony. Mr Howitt has made three trips with the assistance of these animals between Cooper's Creek and Blanchewatcr apparently with quickness and ease, and Mr McKinlay seems also to find no trouble in making his camels useful. This certainly is experience worth obtaining at a time when it is proposed to substitute camels for bullocks in connecting the runs of this far-north country with the districts of Adelaide and Port Augusta.