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Menindee, 23 January 1861.

Original item held at the State Library of Victoria, SLV MS13071, Box 2082/1f (1-4).
Dispatches sent by members of the Victorian Exploring Expedition to the Exploration Committee.
Wright's dispatches, December 1860-June 1861.
Manuscript, handwritten in ink on blue foolscap paper, 33 pages.

 

Received in Melbourne on Tuesday, 5 February 1861 and read at a meeting of the Exploration Committee held that night at the hall of the Royal Society of Victoria.
Present: Wilkie (chair), Neumayer, Selwyn, Elliott, Eades, Gillbee and Macadam.

Macadam had received despatches that day, including one from Wright. Macadam laid on the table meteorological tables compiled by Dr Beckler and pen and ink sketches by Dr Becker. He then read a despatch from Mr Wright and Dr Beckler's diary detailing the journey to Torowoto to rescue Lyons and McPherson, followed by an account of Lyons and McPherson's trip as told to W O Hodgkinson.

These despatches were loaned to the Argus and were published the following day, but the Argus lost the original dispatches and the Exploration Committee filed a newspaper copy of them which had been printed in The Herald on 6 February 1861. At some stage the originals were recoverd by the Exploration Committee.

Depot Camp,
Pamamoroo Creek,
Darling River, NSW
23rd January, 1861.

Dr John Macadam
MLA
Honorary Secretary
Exploration Committee
Melbourne

Sir,

I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your despatch of the 31st ult., together with the letters accompanying it per Mr Hodgkinson, who reached this camp on the 14th inst.

The despatches entrusted to Trooper Lyons are now in my possession, and will be handed to Mr Burke at the first opportunity.

As I have previously announced, Trooper Lyons and M'Pherson the saddler were brought into the depot camp by the small party under Dr Becklers charge sent to their assistance. Both men are now on their way to town,

 
     

 

     

and the Committee will have an opportunity of perusing a statement of their journey, compiled by Mr Hodgkinson from the verbal statement of the two white men and Dick the native.

It is with much regret that I have to express to the committee an opinion that these men did not display prudence sufficient to guard them from much otherwise unnecessary suffering in their undertaking. The horses were injudiciously ridden at starting, and upon the first call on their endurance exhibited the effects of such treatment. When, too, the party had resolved upon retracing their steps, they were evidently, from the tracks of the camels, according to their own version, close upon Mr Burke's party, while, having passed one or his camps without water, in all probability, as he had not returned, water would have been found at the next.

Unhappily there existed between Lyons and M'Pherson,

 
     

 

     

a discord calculated materially to depress the efforts of each, and though I deeply feel for the hardships they undoubtedly endured, and admire the fortitude they exhibited, I cannot conscientiously bestow a higher encomium upon their conduct.

The fidelity of Dick the native was highly praiseworthy, and I beg to return my thanks to the committee for the opportunity they have given me to reward it.

Dr Beckler displayed great zeal in his efforts to bring in Lyons and M'Pheraon, and accompanies the party on his own responsibility in its progress to Cooper's Creek.

To-morrow, the 24th, the depot camp will be struck, and I shall start for Cooper's Crook, with the following party :

Mr Becker, artist.
Dr Beckler, surgeon and botanist.
Mr Hodgkinson, storekeeper
Mr Stone, Mr Smith, Mr Jones - Associates.
Belooch, Hindostanee native.

The animals will number 10 camels and 13 horses, one of the latter being left behind from unfitness to travel.

 
     

 

     

With the exception of Mutwalla and Junglee, the camels left by Mr Landells at M'Cloud's, all the cattle are in good condition, and I trust that these two may, with light loads, be yet  serviceable to the party.

I take nothing to the front save provisions and indispensable necessaries ; the remainder of the stores will be left in charge of Mr Thomas Payne, Menindie.

The 12 pack camel-saddles alluded to in your last despatch have arrived, and form most useful portions of our equipment.

I have already sent out a supply of water some 70 miles in advance, as the creeks, &c., are dried up for that distance from the Darling.

The instructions of the committee relative to my despatches will be implicitly complied with, and I have every confidence in being able to carry out, their wishes as to the conveyance of the stores for Cooper's Creek.

I have the honour to be,
Sir,
Your most obedient servant.
W Wright,
Officer in charge of the depot.

 
     

Depot Camp,
Menindie,
23 January 1861.

Dr John Macadam, MLA.,
Honorary Secretory
Exploration Committee,
Melbourne.

Sir,

In your despatch of the 31st ult., which I have already had the honour to acknowledge, the committee empowered me to draw upon their honorary treasurer for the sum of £400, on account of equipments for the depot party.

In accordance with such authority, and the requirements of the expedition, I have expended the sum of £378 11s 7d, for such articles and in such manner as the receipted bills transmitted herewith explain.

I have also enclosed a detailed account of Mr Hodgkinson's expenses, £10 of which were defrayed by myself;

 
     

 

     

£8 by Mr Foster, superintendent of police, Swan Hill; and the remainder by Dr Wilkie, the honorary treasurer. The chief items of Mr Hodgkinson's expenses for stabling and mail fare were, under the circumstances, unavoidable; and in his personal expenses it is apparent that every economy was used.

I have advanced M'Pherson the saddler £20 on account of his pay. This item, and the price of a horse, we included in Mr Wecker's store account.

In payment of the several bills transmitted, I have given the following orders:

No 1 Jan 22 - Thomas Payne, for stores................£8 16 4
No 2 Jan 22 - Thomas Payne, for seven horses......£ 185 0 0
No 3 Jan 22 - Thomas Payne, for cartage..............£12 0 0
No 4 Jan 23 - Sergt G Bell, for horse.....................£12 0 0
No 5 Jan 23 - Rt Driscoll, for horses......................£50 0 0
No 6 Jan 23 - Ed Wecker, for stores, horses, etc....£ 94 15
Total..................................................................£ 362 11 7

With Mr Payne the expedition had a credit, on my arrival, of £16, for 20 gallons of rum taken by him from our stores at 16s per gallon; this £16 added to the above amount of £362 11s 7d makes up the sum I have expended £378 11s. 7d.

 
     

 

     

The horses procured are strong, serviceable animals, and in every way adapted for their work.

I have not purchased any sheep, in consequence of the absence of rain, rendering it impossible to move them through the back country. When Mr Hodgkinson started for town, the route to Cooper's Creek was flooded, and there would have been little difficulty in taking sheep to the proposed depot at that watercourse. I did not, however, in the absence of the requisite authority, feel justified in drawing upon the committee, and the time, for the present, at any rate, has passed for taking advantage of the permission to do so recently accorded me.

I have the honour to be,
Sir,
Your most obedient servant,
W Wright,
Officer in charge
of the depot.

 
     

(Copy of Certificate)
The bearer, Alexander M'Pherson, associate of the Victorian Exploring Expedition, having recently returned from a point in the interior distant from 350 to 380 miles from the Darling, is so greatly exhausted by the privations to which he was exposed on the journey, that I do not consider him capable of enduring the fatigue incidental to his present duty.

(Signed) Hermann Beckler, Surgeon to the expedition.

 
     

Depot camp, Bumameroo Creek, Darling River, NSW, Jan 15 1861.

I hereby certify that the above named Mr Alexander M'Pherson leaves the party with my full consent. I would also add that Mr M'Pherson has given great satisfaction during the time I have been in charge of the party.

(Signed) W Wright
Officer in charge of the depot camp.

 
     

Bumameroo Creek, Darling Creek, Jan. 15 1861.

Advanced to said Alexander M'Pherson, the sum of £20 (twenty pounds) on account of wages.

(Signed) W W

 
     

 

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