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.
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
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.
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
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
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,