Darling River, September 1860.
|Original item held at the State Library of Victoria, SLV MS13071, Box 2082/1b, Item 1.|
Victorian Exploring Expedition Records, Dispatches sent by members of the VEE to the EC.
William John Wills dispatch, Darling River, 28 September 1860. 4 pages.
Given to Professor Neumayer to hand to Dr John Macadam.
The Honorary Secretary of the Exploration Committee.
I do myself the honour to forward to the Committee my first report together with a sketch of the route taken by the party from the township of Balranald on the Murrumbidgee to our current position on the Darling. I also suppose sending if possible any original field notes and a copy of the astronomical observations made during the journey.
With respect to the plan of our route, I would draw your attention to the fact that it is but a very rough approximation to the north as it will be easily seen ..?.. must be the case from the nature of the survey. It is an exceedingly difficult matter to estimate correctly the rate of travelling of such a party as ours as hitherto been and to allow for the bends and turns in a bush road winding about through dense mallee scrub and box forests.
In order to obtain a satisfactory map of the route attempted it will be necessary that all the astronomical observations should be carefully reduced and the dead reckoning checked and adjusted accordingly. The accompanying plan has been roughly constructed in the following manner. A plot of the field notes has been made estimating the rate of progress at three miles an hour and allowing six to seven degrees for east variation (all the bearings being magnetic). By this plot we obtain very nearly the relative positions of the places although their distances may be significantly out, then by removing the stations at which astronomical observations were obtained to their respective parallels of latitude, retaining their bearings, as on the plot, we have a rough approximation to their true positions.
One of the chief objects in view in keeping the field notes has been to make such observations as may be used for ascertaining the levels of all the more prominent points passed. For this purpose and aneroid barometer and the temperature of air has been noted on the tops of the observations and in the lowest parts of the depressions every ten minutes or every half hour according to the nature of the ground.
In regards the astronomical observations, I may state that they have been made with these two objects mainly in view, firstly for our own immediate use and secondly for the purpose of determining satisfactorily at a future day the position of the places visited.
The instruments are all in good order and I have every reason to be satisfied with them. The want of an assistant prevents me from working out any calculations except what are absolutely necessary for our use in travelling, for I consider that I should not be justified in neglecting to make observations that can only be made now for the sake of computations that can be done at any future day.
For our journey across from Balranald we could scarcely have had a more favourable season. The whole of the country is of a very sandy nature and unfit for retaining surface water, but what makes things worse is that it seldom has its capabilities in that respect tested for rain is quite an uncommon thing. At present the greater portion of the land looks very fine and one can scarcely imagine it ever looking as bare and barren as it probably will in a few months. The only rock to be seen is either limestone or sandstone, the former is found of great quality for burning purposes in many places and a dam is being built of the latter near Terrickenkom. It is said to be a good dam but I did not see it.
Salsolaceous plants are very plentiful everywhere, they are the only reliable portion of vegetation in a botanical point of view. There is however a good show of grass in the vicinity of ? but all evidence is expecting that this has been an extraordinary season, so it is hardly fair to judge from what we have seen.
Subjoined is a list of the camps we have made since leaving Melbourne.
I have the honor to be , Sir,