1 April 1861.
During the first twenty-four days of March the heat has been greater than might be expected for the season and especially the nights were intolerably sultry, a great deal more so than the warmest of January. On the 24th there was a sudden change, it began to blow hard, the nights became very cool. On the evening of the 29th we observed lightning in all quarters, and heard thunder in the north. A slight shower of rain fell between 8 and 9 o 'clock, p.m., and another on the following morning, not sufficient however to lay the dust. The blacks stole a camel pack-saddle from us on the 27th, while I was away from the camp. They carried it about a mile down the creek, where Patten overtook them and recovered the saddle, but it was torn to pieces.
1 April 1861.
Patten commenced shoeing the horses, lest he might become incapacitated by disease, as he felt very unwell.
4 April. 1861.
Patten, after shoeing two horses, was obliged to take to his bed, suffering acute pain, and was not afterwards able to move about.
15 April 1861.
Patten is getting worse. I and McDonough began to feel alarming symptoms of the same disease.
18 April 1861.
There is no probability of Mr Burke returning this way. Patten is in a deplorable state, and desirous of being removed to the Darling to obtain medical assistance, and our provisions will soon be reduced to a quantity insufficient to take us back to the Darling, if the trip should turn out difficult and tedious. Being also sure that I and McDonough would not much longer escape scurvy, I, after most seriously considering all circumstances, made up my mind to start for the Darling on Sunday next, the 21st. The horses have lately got into the habit of straying; missed five of them a few days ago and found them about fifteen miles from the camp. Last Monday we had a welcome rain for the first time since 8th December (except some slight showers on 24th and 25th March). The last three days have been, fine and cool, but now it again looks like rain, although the barometer is very high - higher, indeed, than it has been during our stay here.
21 April 1861.
Left the depot at 10 o' clock am, leaving 50 lbs of flour, 50 lbs of oatmeal, 50 lbs of sugar and 30 lbs of rice buried near the stockade, at the foot of a large tree and marked the word "dig" on the tree. I took 150 lbs of flour, 75 lbs of sugar, about 70 lbs of oatmeal, 1 bag of rice, 4 lbs of tea, and a small quantity of biscuits. Taking into consideration that we would be obliged to travel slowly on account of Patten, and on account of the scarcity of water which I calculated to have to contend with, and would probably be on the road to the Darling at least six or seven weeks, I considered that I could not take less provisions. Patten was placed on a quiet camel. We travelled very slowly, and halted at 5 o'clock pm, having made about fourteen miles.
22 April 1861.
Started at 8 o'clock, and reached Camp 63 (Rats' Hole) at 11.30 am finding the frame of a camel pack-saddle stuck in a tree. We had put away the saddle in some bushes when we abandoned the place on account of the rats, but the natives had found it. Halted at Camp 62.
23 April 1861.
Were visited by about seventy or eighty natives, some of them old acquaintances. Threw away a bag of camel shoes to lighten the burdens of the two sick camels. Travelled twenty-eight miles, and halted at Camp 60. Splendid grass in bed of creek.
24 April 1861.
Filled two pair of water-bags with water, and started for Bulloo at 12.30 pm, going ESE. Finding a little water and plenty of good grass, halted at 5 pm. Was compelled to throw away nine pair of water-bags to be able to carry water. Finest country in the neighborhood of Cooper's Creek.
25 April 1861.
Started at 8 am, from eleven o' clock passed over very stony country. Three o'clock stony range. Halted at 6.15 pm between ranges without water or grass.
26 April 1861.
Having kept a careful watch over the camels and horses, we were enabled to start at 6.30 am. Till eleven o' clock, very stony and scrubby country to pass over. When clear of ranges, followed an ESE. course, crossing several creeks without water running SW, bank of creeks thickly timbered with gum. The creeks looked likely to contain some watery but pushed on without searching for it. At 3 pm came upon sandy, well grassed and thinly timbered country; saw a variety of birds, as pigeons, crows, etc; halted at a creek, probably McDonough's Creek. We had to watch our cattle closely the whole night, as want of water made them inclined to ramble and they showed no inclination to feed.
27 April 1861.
Started at 6.4 am taking an E by S course, as the appearance of the ranges to the N and NE led me to believe that I had kept rather too much to the south. I continued on this course till 9 am, when I got a glimpse of a high ridge, which I recognised as the western boundary ridge of the Balloo Plains. Went east till 10 am then E by N, and arrived at the Bulloo Creek, at Camp 52, at 1.45 pm. When crossing Mr Burke's old track I noticed fresh tracks of horses and camels going in different directions, which were not more than ten, to twelve days old, and I conjectured that the party left at Menindee had been at Bulloo, or were there still. As I could not expect to find water down the creek, I followed up our old track, knowing that there must be water in a large channel, which we had passed on our way to Cooper's Creek, about five miles from Camp 51. At 4 pm I reached several small but deep water holes with plenty of water, and camped there. We had much trouble to keep the horses from plunging into the water, most of them having had no fresh water for exactly 100 hours. I decided upon remaining there the whole of the following day, not only to refresh the cattle, but also to search for traces of the Darling party.
28 April. 1861.
Went very early in search of the horses up the creek. At about daylight I got in sight of them, at the same time observing smoke rising within 300 yards from me, and near the horses. There was not light enough to see well and I thought I had dropped upon a camp of natives, and resolved to try to obtain some information from them respecting the Darling party. After going a few yards further, I saw to my great surprise a European advancing towards me. It was Mr. Hodgkinson. He led me to Mr Wright's camps, and after bringing our party in with horses and camels, &c., I placed myself and party under the orders of Mr Wright.
I have the honor to be,
Your most obedient Servant,