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appointed to to aid organizing the Victorian Relief Expedition
under the leadership of Mr Howitt

Original item held at the State Library of Victoria, SLV MS13071, Box 2075/3a, Item 2.
Victorian Relief Expedition Records, RSV EC minutes and reports of sub-committees.
Report of sub-committee appointed to aid organizing the Victorian Relief Expedition. 8 p.

 

n.d., but c. late June 1861.
Report signed RD (Exploratioon Committee clerk Robert Dickson).
This report was adopted at an EC meeting held on 1 July 1861.

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Report of sub-committee appointed to aid organizing the Victorian Relief Expedition
under the leadership of Mr Howitt

The sub-committee appointed to consider the most efficient, safe, and expedient arrangements for rendering succour to Mr Burke and his party beg to submit for the consideration of the Exploration Committee, in first instance, that Mr Howitt's party, in order to effect a hopeful searoh for the expedition, should be strengthened to about twelve individuals, including one or two aborigines.

A party thus constituted would possess sufficient strength to despatch early, at any manifestations of scurvy, those afflicted with this dreadful malady back to the settlements, without involving by this measure the necessity of abandoning the continuation of search on Mr Burke's track, and yet commanding, after such a division of the party, sufficient strength to repulse any attacks of the natives.

Mr Howitt proposes a view in which the sub-committee conditionally concur that a party of about five should return, if required, with early despatches, either from Cooper's Creek or Eyre's Creek, or any other locality Mr Howitt may finally decide on. But the sub-committee entertain the opinion that, until the cause for sending despatches arises, a separation in Mr Howitt's party should be deemed admissible only under the most urgent circumstances; and, impressed with this view, they cannot recommend that a depot at Cooper's Creek should be re-established by such means as will be at Mr Howitt's direct command.

Yet the sub-committee perceive the necessity of urging that immediate steps should be taken, before the cool and rainy season passes away, to replenish the stores at Cooper's Creek, and endeavour to maintain a depot under the guardianship of a separate contingent party, and establish also a periodical communication between Cooper's Creek and the settlements, in order that Mr Burke and Mr Howitt, whenever thus far returning to the settled districts, should find by these means their home journey facilitated, and rendered at this stage safe.

But the subecommittee, most anxious to prevent by all means within their power the recurrence of such losses as were recently sustained in the Victorian Expedition through the ravages of scorbutic disease, regard it imperative for Mr Howitt to guard all his movements in such an independent manner as to see his retreat never intercepted, be it either to the settlements of the Darling, or to the stations northward of Mount Serle.

The sub-committee desire to express their opinion that discretionary power should be granted to Mr Howitt for purchasing, besides the sixteen horses already provided for his party, such additional number as he may consider requisite, after availing himself of any serviceable horses and dromedaries brought back by Messrs Wright and Brahe.

The sub-committee find it impossible to complete through Mr Howitt, in the course of this day, all the additional local preparations for the responsible and perilous enterprise it trusted to the guidance of that gentleman, but no efforts will be spared to speed his departure as much as possible.

Appended is a list of those articles required additionally by Mr Howitt's party, irrespective of such equipment and stores as are rendered available by the return of the two detachments of the Victorian expedition.

It is calculated that the party will convey full rations for five months, without impeding the celerity of their progress by overburdening the animals; but an opinion is entertained by the sub-committee that all arrangements entered into by the travelling party should be be so framed as to render the travellers independent of dromedaries at any stage of their proceedings, however great the auxiliary aid of these animals may prove.

Drs Eades and Gilbee have been been so friendly as to secure the requisite supplies of antiscorbutic medicines for the party.

Authority will be required for placing an additional sum of £100 cash in Mr Howitt's hands, partly to meet the now increasing travelling ex- penses through the settlements, and partly to grant, through Mr Howitt's agency, the necessary sums to the employés of the Victorian expedition recently returned to the settlements, for the purpose of enabling them to proceed to Melbourne; also, to pay out of this fund for the services of the man temporarily engaged by Mr Wright after his return. It seems also expedient to invest Mr Howitt with authority to arrange, ad interim, for the safe keeping of the property of the expedition remaining accumulated on the Darling after his departure, by the engagement of a special storekeeper or otherwise.

Notice has been given through the press that the services of a medical-officer are needed for Mr Howitt's party, in accordance with the resolution passed by the Exploration Cornmittee. It is suggested that supplementary instruc- tions should, without delay, be issued for Mr Howitt's guidance, although it is scarcely needful to point out how necessary it will be to leave sufficient latitude to that gentleman to carry, according to his own judgement, and in accordance to circumstances, his measures into effect.

The sub-committee deem it, under the urgency of circumstances, incumbent on the Exploration Committee that a telegraphic request should be made to the South Australian Government to direct that the native police stationed at Mount Serle do act as bearers of despatches to Cooper's Creek, which locality, under such arrange- ment, would probably be reached several weeks earlier than could be effected via Menindie, whilst it is thought we would simultaneously learn to a fuller extent how far the communications be- tween the northern settlements of South Australia and Cooper's Creek might be kept up throughout the year, and how far it may be preferable to re-supply any future depot on Cooper's Creek from the Lake Torrens settlements.

 

 
     
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