|Bourne's Journal of Landsborough's expedition from Carpentaria, in search of Burke & Wills
Melbourne: H T Dwight.
Having conducted my reader thus far, there will be no necessity for describing the remainder of our route through a district already well known. The failure of our party in tracking out the course of the unfortunate Burke and his comrades, as well as Walker and party's want of success on the same errand, arose from the simple fact, of which the originators of this expedition and many others seem not to be aware, that tracks, under many circumstances become almost immediately obliterated, as Burke's proved to be for long distances together.
One fact, however, of some importance, we, with McKinlay and Stuart's parties have assisted to put in its true light, which is the perfect sufficiency of horses for the purpose of exploring in Australia. There is, indeed, no question that they are immeasurably superior in the bush to bullocks, as they will be found in inexperienced hands even to camels.
One of the circumstances which struck me very forcibly on our trip, and is in itself a remarkable commentary on the nature of the country which we passed through, is the great scarcity of animal life. Of large game the emu is certainly the most numerous, kangaroo and opossums being of very rare occurrence.
One of the results of this is that the natives are not numerous and are, probably, very hard pressed to sustain life on their very indifferent food. The long droughts which certainly occur in that part of the country which lies between the Barcoo and tin Darling must, indeed, be very trying to these people. Such droughts, I have no doubt, are both severe and frequent, as a thousand circumstances sheer, and will often make travelling most difficult through this region, as far at least as stock is concerned, In fact, I am informed, whilst writing this, by a friend of mine (Mr Julius Curr, a native of the Colonies and an excellent bushman, who has just returned from the neighbourhood of the Barcoo) that even now this country is probably quite impassable even to a horseman, and certainly so to persons travelling with stock. It is to be hoped that this will become known to such adventurous pioneers as think of transplanting their household gods to the fertile banks of the Flinders. It will net, indeed, be out of place to remark, that stockowners who have been accustomed to the settled districts only, should, before starting on a trip of this sort, secure the services of someone as a leader who is used to travelling in these arid regions. It is not improbable, indeed, that some parties will discover, when too late, the truth of this remark, and the importance of having a prudent and experienced leader to rely upon. May my timely warning prove of service to them!
With this, gentle reader, I should have been glad to have made my bow, and it is with a feeling of reluctance that I must, in conclusion, direct attention for a moment to what I feel to be the ungenerous behaviour of my late leader (Mr Landsborough). Of his party, as the reader is aware, I was second in command; in private letters he has not hesitated to acknowledge that I was efficient in that capacity. May I ask - why has he omitted, on every public occasion, to bear testimony to my services and to say that my qualifications as a bushman, which he has often in private admitted to be superior to his own, very materially contributed to the success of the Expedition.
Whilst my motives might have been misunderstood, I refrained from sending these papers to the press. When they appear, everything connected with the expedition will be at an end. Mr Landsborough will have sucked the orange and thrown away the rind. The blushes of modest worth, on his presentation of plate, will have passed from his ingenuous features. His substantial testimonial I do not envy him, but it pains me that he should be content to monopolize instead of only sharing the distinction which others have so materially assisted in winning.