Sunday, 1 December 1861.
Kept holy the Sabbath day; all very quiet reading newspapers, and those who had any, their letters. Good news from home. How pleasant it is to receive a little cheerful tidings from anywhere, but from those we love doubly so. I was not troubled with anything of the sort, but one of the party had enough for the lot, so he told us anything he thought we might like to hear lucky dog, to have friends to write to him! Temperature today 139° and rather hot as you may suppose. McKinlay and party start to morrow for the south east and Cooper's Creek. I wish I was going with them. Today a few natives came into camp, and round the neck of one of them was found suspended the side spring of a Terry's breech loading rifle, and tells McKinlay that the rest of the rifle is out to the north east. I suspect it must be one of Burke's, who left it behind at the fight, or else it got disabled, and was of no further use: a little bit of mystery again. I wonder whose rifle it was or who left it, I wonder, you hear from mouth to mouth, and divers opinions on the subject. I suppose it will be all cleared up by the publishing of Burke's journal. 110 days out today. All well, but much thinner, at least the majority. I wish we had some Bass or Alsopp, or any other good beer. You, reader, will perhaps ask why we did not take some. The answer is simple we had no carriage for it.
Monday, 2 December 1861.
Mr McKinlay and party started this morning with two camels and four horses, about 9am. Bullenjani is left in charge of sheep. Frank, our native shepherd, going with McKinlay. Again we must trespass on McKinlay's journal for the narrative of his trip, as I was not with him to Cooper's Creek and back. Meantime I will just jot down what happened during his absence at the depot camp, Lake Buchanan, where the remainder of us are staying. Wind very light today. A squall, accompanied with rain, passed over the camp about 3pm, and the wind continued blowing hard till midnight. We had a jolly evening notwithstanding, singing songs and telling stories of bygone days. Today the last tobacco served out twenty eight sticks for each man; not much certainly, so we must husband it. Two of the party tossed up who should have the two allowances. Ned Palmer won the toss, and immediately put them up to auction, and they were bought by Davis for £1. 4/, so he has three. Ned knocks of smoking at once.
Tuesday, 3 December 1861.
The morning broke fine and clear, wind west. Our rations reduced today flour, from 8 lb to 7 lb; sugar from 2 lb to 1½ lb; and tea from 4 oz to 3 oz, a man per week. Our sugar never held out before, what will it do now? We may have to go without presently, which I think very likely to occur if we are out any length of time, and so it is as well to begin to live on short commons by degrees.
Wednesday, 4 December 1861.
Blew very hard this morning and during the night, and very cold during the middle part. Could not see the thermometer, the night was too dark; the two camels on being let loose this morning started away round the lake, and took it into their heads to explore a trifle on their own account. A fine walk I had after them, seven or eight miles. I got on their tracks, but could see nothing of them for a long time, the sand hills being so many and close together. At last I saw one on the top of rather a high sand hill, just going over, then in a short time discovered the other; they were hobbled still; they went along at a good stiff walk, and kept me for an hour or so till I could come upon them, a stern chase being always a long one. I at last headed them, and turned them to go home. Arrived at 11.30, and found that Bell and a black had gone out after me, thinking that I had lost the tracks returning, or could not find the animals; it certainly was rather difficult tracking them, as they leave so little marks behind them, and then the sand was blowing so much that in many places the marks were quite obliterated, and having no compass I steered by the sun, knowing pretty well where the camp was. I missed Bell as he followed the outward tracks, and I had come a shorter way home. He arrived about 1.30, and found us just getting our dinners. It was a weary and lonely walk, and I was tired when I got home, the sand being in some places very deep and soft. One of our men had got a severe kick from a horse today, which placed him hors de combat for two days. The well was sounded today, and had two feet eight inches water in it. Temperature cool and rather windy.
Thursday, 5 December 1861.
This morning delightfully cool and pleasant. 113 days out from Adelaide today. On going after the animals to see if they were all right, the bullocks were not to be seen. Ned and the driver went after them, and found their tracks to the eastward, and also our faithful (?) native Bullenjani on the track, which circumstance created the suspicion that they had been driven out by some of the natives.
Friday, 6 to Tuesday, 10 December 1861.
For the last week I find nothing in the journal but the temperature; extreme variation, 54° to 122°. Making trousers and repairing wardrobes generally, which by this time were rather the worse for wear, seeing we were only allowed to take two shirts, two pairs of boots, two pairs of trousers, and half a dozen pairs of socks, one coat; etc; some did infringe a little, and took three or four shirts. We sang songs, and made ourselves as jolly as circumstances would permit. The water in the well has risen to 3 ft 10 in, although we are constantly using it for drinking.
Wednesday, 11 December 1861.
Today, about noon, McKinlay returned, having succeeded in finding Burke's and Wills' graves.
Friday, 13 December 1861.
Mr McKinlay is going out tomorrow to the stony desert of Sturt. The party consists of two white men, two blacks, five horses, and two camels. At 11.30am to 12 o'clock the thermometer was up to 165°. Reader, how would you like that style?
Saturday, 14 December 1861.
This morning the party started at 7.30, crossed sand hills and flooded flats, thirty or forty miles, to a small creek, where they camped; there is little or no water in it, and from the report of the natives there seems to be no likelihood to be any further on; so McKinlay determined to return to camp tomorrow, and to go no further, as the natives report seems correct from the appearance of this creek, and from what we could see of the country from on the top of a very high stony hill. Had a first rate supper chocolate and jerked mutton.
Sunday, 15 December 1861.
Up very early; got breakfast, and started for depot at 8am. We went another route home. Soon got out of the stones. At 12am came to a native well, where we camped under some trees; unloaded the animals for a couple of hours; gave them some water from the well, and let them browse about while we got a; fire under way, and our pots on for some tea. By the time the horses had been watered, our impromptu snack was ready, consisting of tea and jerked mutton. We then had a smoke, till McKinlay gave the word to saddle, which was soon done; and we started for Lake Buchanan, and arrived about 6.30, tired and hungry. Country undulating and not very promising.
Monday, 16 December 1861.
Up very early this morning to get all ready for a start northward, packing the dray. We shall be off tomorrow if all goes on well, at least that is the leader's intention. Many natives about. Cut on a large tree at the back of the camp, after nicely squaring a place on it about 2ft by 1ft 3 in.
fm. Oct 20th to Dec 17th
The arrow points to the spot where McKinlay buried some letters in an airtight tin case, for any parties who might come there; also some memoranda for the Commissioner of Crown Lands. We all very happy that we are to be on the road again, although we were very comfortable here under all circumstances. Still we got tired of the awful monotony of the same humdrum life; same niggers, same trees, same pelicans. Everything ready for a start the first thing tomorrow morning.
Tuesday, 17 December 1861.
The cart is of, and we are only waiting till it gets a certain distance ahead, so that it may not be too late in coming into camp after us, as the cart carries the commissariat, and it won't do to let that be much behind in arriving after us poor famished mortals. At 10.45 all off, horses and camels with their attendants. Blacks all around us to say goodbye; they lined the side of the lake, jabbering their farewells; but there was no cambric fluttering in the breeze, there was no fair one who had lost her heart taking a last fond look of the gay deceiver. I can assure you, gentle reader, we all left free and unencumbered with the sins consequent on civilization. There is an encampment of 300 or 400 up the creek; they could soon make short work of us if they knew how we travelled. Twelve to fourteen miles today, nothing but sand hills and flooded flats all sandy.
Here during our long stay we got up a newspaper called the Dakoo Review Mr Hodgkinson editor the leading article of which I give with one or two other contributions. No snowdrift hides from view the face of the earth, no frost holds in its adamantine chain the waters; while bright as may be the stars, and deeply blue the sky, their splendour is not derived from stern winter's power. As with nature, so with mankind, the eye in vain seeks those pitiable objects of charity abounding in more northern lands; no wretched outcast parades his barely covered and famine stricken form, while the hand idly retains the ready dole. . Still, though in lieu of this, we are now beneath a sultry sun, and seek relief in densest shade, though the myriad, busy ant swarms on the ill protected plate, and the rapacious fly devours our luscious plums, yet the cherished recollections of the season hedge round us, repelling all incongruity, and demanding all effort for enjoyment. It must not, however, be forgotten that Christmas comprehends other duties besides those of feasting, and that our presence among the unenlightened of the earth affords to us a particular opportunity of discharging them; the good sense of the community will enable them to effect this. No one will attempt to give the savage a desire for an article of luxury incapable of an entire gratification on our limited stock of currants. No one will sigh for roast beef when only our toiling bullocks meet the gaze; but all doubtless will raise the deadly gun, bringing down the swift pigeon and obese ducks, or extend commerce by a traffic for the scaly paxro (a kind of fish). Should the dusky savage chaunt his wild corroboree on these southern shores, let the north resound in reply with the good old Anglo Saxon cry of a Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all.
Impromptu by the Cook.
Roast, boil, and bake,
Throughout the livelong clay;
Alas! why did I take
The billet and the pay
News of the day.
As some of our female correspondents, including many ladies of the haut ton, having expressed a desire to learn the costume worn on state occasions by the grand hereditary Albeena of Cudgeecudgeena, the Lady Kinbella, we re insert the following - Coiffure 'a la Centrale Australie; bust, au naturel; arms, bracelet pure; neck, necklace a la Birmingham, the whole forming a very novel tout ensemble, and extremely adapted for hot weather.
To Marja - A Native Lady of Cudgeecudgeena
She wore no wreath. No braided locks Told Art was busy there;
No dress, no gem, no shoes, no socks, Concealed from view the fair.
No marring touch had ever sought
To hide her lithesome form
With fabrics from the Indies brought, Or of the. silkworm born.
Ah, no! a purer taste had reigned
Upon her natal hour,
And Nature's simple rule retained
Her beauty in its power.
Swept by the breeze, each darkened tress
To lover oft revealed
The beauties that a jealous dress
Too surely had concealed.
The swelling orbs of ebon hue,
That from her bosom sprung,
Left unconfined the ravished view
The gazer oftimes flung.
No more shall meretricious charms
Win homage from my soul,
Since, in this lovely maiden's arms,
Love reigns without control.
Several more literary efforts might be added, but perhaps the above will be sufficient.
Wednesday, 18 December 1861.
Two black fellows came into camp last night, one our own Friday, (Milmilly), the other a stranger, who was ordered off the premises; ours remained and slept in camp, and we kept a strict watch over him during the night. Orders this morning for WyIde and Davis to go to the cart with water on two camels. Bell is cook today, the cook being left behind with Kirby and Ned to take care of the cart. We left for the cart at 8am, Wylde to remain to strengthen the detachment. I return by myself with some things from the cart. Ned and Hodgkinson found the bullocks that had strayed this morning, and brought them into camp about 3.30pm. They will proceed to the cart this afternoon with the stick that it may be fitted; we shall wait here till it comes.
Thursday, 19 December 1861.
Remained in camp all day. Cut…
Dec. 17th, 18th, 19th, 1861.
on a tree under which we camped. A native dog came into camp last night, and tried to get at the sheep in the fold (for at every camp we have to build a brush fold), but was shot by our native Frank. The natives in the encampment close by, already mentioned, took fright at the report, and cleared out sharp, and not one was to be heard a quarter of an hour after. With them Bullenjani he was a useful fellow in his way; I don't suppose we shall see him again. One of them returned in the morning. Temperature during the afternoon, 145° very hot; indeed, no air hardly. The cart arrived all right; the men worked all night at it by the light of a fire, and, consequently, came up some hours before they were expected too late for a start, but to morrow we shall be on the road again.
Friday, 20 December 1861.
Up very early, and left Gunani Creek at 8am; passed over some fearful country, the horses and camels up to their knees in the rotten flats, over which our course lay, the horses quite in a lather; the camels even sweated, the first time they ever did so during the journey; it was awful work for the bullocks; the cart, when we passed it, was up to the naves of the wheels in the rotten earth, and the bullocks up to their knees. I don't know when they will get into camp tonight. One of the finest bullocks died from the heat of the sun today; he was very fat, and it is a pity we could not save any of the meat, as it would have helped out our sheep considerably; Mr McKinlay did not know anything of it till the cart came in the evening, too late to send out. On our journey today, after passing these rotten flats, we came to a small creek, where we spelled for a short time, and crossed this creek to a lake, where we camped on the northeast shore at about 1pm, where the water seemed deepest. Mr Hodgkinson went out to try the depth, and found at some 300 yards from the shore 10½ feet. It is certainly the deepest lake we have yet come to. This lake I should say is permanent, and from its depth must be a great resort of the natives far and near in great droughts. The native name of it is Goonaidranganni, but called after our worthy leader, Lake McKinlay. Splendid bathing in this lake, the water being so deep enabled those who could swim to indulge in that healthy exercise. Orders to night for three of the party to go after the dead bullock and get his hide, it being so very useful for hobbles or ropes; and in the event of being very hard up for grub, what can be better than bullock's hide well boiled. A good deal of thunder, with indications of rain; hope it may come and cool the air. Hot wind blowing today and very disagreeable. McKinlay found Frank, the native, asleep on his watch last night, for which he got severely reprimanded. He became impudent and sulky. It would have served him right had the governor given him a good tanning for his insolence. He said he would go no further, so McKinlay discharged him, giving him an order on the Commissioner of Crown Lands for his money. He has gone back to Perigundi, where is a young female, rejoicing m the name Kintullah (Anglice - shedog) with whom this fellow had fallen deeply in love, as he told us some time before at Lake Buchanan. He said that he should when he returned marry this Kintullah a nice name for a man's wife. I expect that she is the chief cause of his leaving; so wishing him a happy 'honeymoon, if they have moons of that description here, we will leave him to his own devices. Only a few drops of rain after all our expectations.
Saturday, 21 December 1861.
This morning three started off about 4am to skin the dead ox and bring in his hide; they returned at 8.30am. The bullocks were left un-hobbled last night, as they were very much distressed; consequently, they rambled away, and were not found till 11am. We started about 1pm. This was a day indeed; the horses before they were packed were in a perfect lather, and the perspiration pouring of us like water; the camels also suffered much, the loading and saddling the beasts was quite a task from the intense heat. We were nearly done up before we started; in fact, it was a mercy none of us had a sun stroke. We arrived after a start at 3pm, at Moolionboorrana, hot, tired, and nothing to eat, the cart, as usual, not having arrived. We had a great loss today, the thermometer got broken, so from this time we shall be unable to record the temperature. Passed over flooded flats and sandhills, then made the bed of a dry lake, with splendid grass, looking very park like and pretty. All the rest of the way was over low sandhills and flats. We arrived with the horses and camels about 3.30pm. Not a tree hardly to be seen at Lake Moolionboorrana, so we had to camp without the slightest shade; reflection from the water and sand very trying, the latter burning the feet as we walked. The cart and sheep not up to time. WyIde and Bell went in search of the missing party with a pack horse to bring some food, if the dray could not come on; it became so dark, however, they could not follow the tracks, and returned unsuccessful at 10pm. Innumerable pelicans, ducks, gulls, waders, cormorants, and pigeons, plenty of fish also. Small quantities of rain in the claypans. A little flour and water mixed, on the coals, and to bed.
Sunday, 22 December 1861.
We remained at this camp all day, awfully hot, no covering, the pegs of the tents having no hold in the sand, so we had to make a sort of an impromptu. one with blankets, packbags, and camel saddles; water very brackish, and containing soda. Hodgkinson, Bell, and a native were of very early to see what had become of the cart. It appeared that it got turned over crossing a sand hill; sheep all right, and nothing the matter. The men with the sheep and cart had to be up all night to watch the natives, they being numerous, and moving about close by all the time. This lake is about three miles long by two wide. The bullocks very much jaded today from the last two days work, and persist in remaining in the water, sometimes lying at full length in it; they are all of their feed.
Monday, 23 December 1861.
We left this morning with no regret, and came to a creek about seven miles off. The water shocking, so bad that neither horses nor camels would touch it, quite bitter the name of it Gad bung oonie; fortunately, we had a little in the canteens, or we should have felt the heat more. We, with the horses and camels, came up to Mr McKinlay, who was waiting for us here. He started, after getting a drink of water, very much disappointed, as he intended to stop here to give the bullocks a short stage. We soon followed on his track to a second creek, Watthie gurkie, which fills Lake Abberangainie. This is quite dry, and the water in the creek salt and bad, so had to go on to Lake Cann boog o nannie; passed two or three salt lakes on our way, also another quite dry, well timbered, with lots of feed. We arrived at this fine lake, Cann boog o nannie, at about 4pm; splendid feed and water. This is a fine lake, but not so deep by any means as Lake McKinlay. Pelican, ducks, and fish here. We shall spend Christmas Day here, so that the bullocks will have a rest; they will not arrive here till tomorrow, as they will not be able to travel this long stage (twenty five miles) today, in this fearful heat, after the last two hard days work. This lake is some nine or ten miles round, perhaps more. We passed through some of the best country for grazing today since we left Adelaide. The female camel gave us some trouble today; she did not seem to like the long days march, and kept breaking her nose string. We arrived here rather tired, but the cart, as usual, not being up with the pots, kettles, and meat, we were obliged to sup off scons baked on the coals, and a pot of tea without sugar. The natives came round, as many were old friends who had also visited us at Lake Buchanan. They brought lots of women with them, and among them the only pretty face we have seen, and she is really very pretty, her features regular, and her figure faultless. They provided us with an ample supply of fish. Some of those who had been with us before baked some adoo for us, but we did not touch it, having seen the process of the manufacture, which certainly was anything but tempting. They grind it between two stones, then winnow it, put it into a wooden trough, and mix it thus they don't pour water on it as we should, but take a mouthful at a time, and squirt over this flour, if it may bear that name, until they have kneaded it into a paste, which they make into thin cakes, and bake in the ashes, in fact an adoo damper. One of our men got some from one of the natives, and made it into a small cake; it had a strong astringent taste, and leaves a hot sensation in the throat. They also brought us water for cooking, wood, etc., and were highly delighted we had come. Not less than 200 or 300 were round us at one time. Mr McKinlay has called this Lake Jeannie, after Miss Jane Pile, of Gawler. We called it Lake Christmas, and did not know that he had named it otherwise till we saw it in his journal in Adelaide. Cart only got as far as the last bitter water hole we passed.
Tuesday, 24 December 1861.
Christmas Eve. We spelled today; many natives. Mr McKinlay started Hodgkinson this morning to the cart with a pack horse and two large canteens of water for the men, and to find a firmer place to cross the creek than where we did, as it was rather boggy. Any quantity of pelicans, showing that fish is plentiful; in fact, we saw the natives with large strings of fish going to their whirlies; they brought us plenty also. Cart arrived at 12.30pm; they found a little good water last night. Kirby with the sheep got astray today, but was found during the afternoon not far from the camp but going quite past it, by Bell and WyIde. This part of the country is very fine; magnificent feed, indeed, all round about here. The natives were kicking up a great disturbance in their camp last night, when the governor ordered a rocket to be sent up, when, as if by magic, the noise ceased, and was heard no more this night. What their ideas may be of fireworks I don't know; perhaps they think us some superior beings, making stars and coloured fires in the clouds. It is a pity that we can understand them so little; their ideas on different subjects would be very original and amusing. We made a night of it singing, throwing weights, etc. but no grog, or perhaps we should not have gone to bed at all; first time I was ever without it maybe it is all the better for us.
Wednesday, 25 December 1861.
Christmas Day: a sober and very quiet one it was, but we had a first rate dinner of roast mutton and plum pudding, and we made it as jolly as circumstances would allow; we had no cares or Christmas bills. This is, I suspect, the first English plum pudding made and eaten on this lake, and I shall long remember this day. I have spent Christmas day in many parts of the world, but this is the quietest I ever did see. I spent one coming down the Red Sea, and I thought that was bad enough, but I find there are worse places in the world to eat your Christmas dinner in than on board a fine Peninsular and Oriental steamer. It does not seem like Christmas, it is so hot, the wind quite a hot blast, and endless myriads of ants and flies teasing us to death may we never spend another like it, say I. We roused the echoes a bit with songs, and many a cheer for absent friends and the girls we left behind us, drinking their healths in cold tea (if ever it did get cold), and so ended with us Christmas of 1861. Where shall we all be this time next year? Any number of natives prowling about all round our camp; strict watch kept all night.
Thursday, 26 December 1861.
This morning broke fine and clear. Mr McKinlay deposited documents under a tree, against which our tent was pitched the tree being marked…
Dec. 23, 24, 25, 61
Started about 8am. Going to the north end of lake. We, with the camels, took a short cut, and came on to the cart crossing a creek. McKinlay had gone in a straight course for another lake, and we followed on his tracks, and came up to the cart in a very short time. The horses were long after us. Had they followed us they would have been all right. There are lots of natives on and about this creek; its name, Appam barra. Got here about 11am. Plenty of water in the creek, which abounds with fish. We camped on a small tributary of this creek. Feed not very good. Any quantity of crawfish here also. Country looks very hard and bare; no vegetation to speak of, great numbers of salt, polygonum, samphire, and other kinds of bushes. The natives are a fine, healthy race of men, the women as usual rather small and insipid looking; they always accompany the men when they visit us. Mr McKinlay distributed a quantity of necklaces and bracelets to them all. They are as friendly as any one could wish, doing almost anything that is required of them. Their bringing up their lubras is a sign of faith and good will to the white fellow. They all smell awfully of fish, living as they do principally on the scaly denizens of the lakes about here; you can positively scent them some distance from you.
Friday, 27 December 1861.
On sending for the horses this morning up the creek, it was found they had vanished, showing by their tracks that they had gone in the direction of our last camp, on Lake Cann boog o-nannie, so some of us had to go after them on two or three that had not wandered. We found them right on the lake. They seem to like the feed there better than on the creek. We did not get back till 4.30pm, so were obliged to remain here all night. McKinlay set us to work to clear the polygonum bushes on the side of the creek, to prevent a surprise. It was terribly hot work, but he likes to see the men usefully employed, and quite right too. Had he not found work for us at the different camps we remained at, some would certainly have had the blue devils. Nothing like employment; at any rate, it keeps the men out of mischief. Something must have frightened the horses, as many of the hobbles were broken; consequently we lost the chains attached to them, which is a serious matter. From the number of natives here, there will be a strict watch kept. There was a slight row in the evening, so McKinlay, Bell, and Davis started off. McKinlay fired his revolver, but no natives could we see, so returned to camp, and went to bed with our arms by our sides. We lost ewe in lamb in the scrub: how she got away is mystery to us all.
Saturday, 28 December 1861.
Left the camp about 9am. There was not a breath of wind to stir a leaf, consequently very hot. After a short journey of about five miles struck a most magnificent lake, which Mr McKinlay has named after Mr Hodgkinson; in fact it may be called two lakes, as there are two fine sheets of water joined by a narrow strait. We shall remain here a few days, I expect, as Mr McKinlay is going to look for some more lakes, said to be east and south of our present camp. More necklaces for the natives, who were highly delighted with their presents; they are all a fine, sleek, fat looking race: they must live principally on fish, in fact there seems little else for them to eat, unless they can catch the gulls and ducks sailing about the broad and beautiful lake, or bring down some of the pigeons and cockatoos of all kinds that abound here. Occasionally a black may be seen with a solitary bird, but not often. This is a fearful camp, sand everywhere, gets into all your things, and every mouthful you take is covered. Seven or eight dark hours camped close to us by themselves, in a mia mia, but no one knew anything of it till the following morning rather cool that; the morning watch thought he discovered something in the bush, and sure enough there they were, all curled up together. Their intentions were evidently friendly to us poor forlorn travellers of the desert. Native name of this creek is Watti widulo. As soon as we arrived here we were beset by natives young men and maidens, old men and children, and some of the most hideous old crones among them ever seen; they were nearly all to be decorated with beads, and Mr McKinlay sat down and hung round their jet necks necklaces, and round the arms of the young girls he placed bracelets of multifarious colours. The tribe here is legion. Most of the elderly people have their four front teeth knocked out in the upper jaw; in the younger portion of the community you do not see it so often. Killed a sheep to be jerked for the coming journey to the east, but all were too fat, and we were obliged to pick out the poorest for the purpose; but they were all fat, fatter, fattest, and not a poor one to be found; however, we picked out the leanest, and soon had him cut up and hung out to dry; the sun being very hot will soon jerk it. The little sheep are holding out well, you will say, and the country not so very bad, when they are too fat to jerk.
Sunday, 29 December 1861.
Remained at Watti widulo. Weather sultry and uncomfortable in the extreme. A black fellow from our last camp arrived today with the news that a party of white fellows, some six or eight, had arrived at Lake Buchanan, and were coming on our tracks to overtake us. Mr McKinlay and all of us wondered who and what they could be. The only conjecture we could come to was that the Government had heard the same report that our detachment did at Blanchewater, that we had all who were left behind been killed and eaten by the natives. McKinlay does not put much faith in any party being out at all; however, we shall soon see, as we shall remain here some days, and they can be with us in a day or two. If they have come out on account of the story told, they will all be rejoiced to find us both well in body and spirits. It may be also only some ruse of the blacks, as they, in common with most savages, are well up in deceit. Busy jerking for McKinlay and party to morrow. Hot wind, and the sand blowing in all directions. Pity the thermometer is gone, as we should have noted day by day the changes in the temperature, which are very great and sudden out here.
Monday, 30 December 1861.
McKinlay and party started this morning to explore the lakes talked of by the natives. Wind very high from south west. Middleton, Hodgkinson, and WyIde accompanied the leader in this expedition, and a native calling himself Dilbilly. It is very odd that Sturt did not discover these. lakes, as he went within a few miles of them. McKinlay takes with him two camels and horses, with a week's provisions.
Tuesday, 31 December 1861..
Sky heavy, and looking very much for rain. Remained in camp, certainly the most uncomfortable one we have had; no green to shelter us, and not much grass or other green to counteract the fierce glare from the white sand. We all hope the party will soon return, so that we may escape out of this. Mr McKinlay left orders to see that the wants of the white men, should they arrive, were properly attended to; and they shall be if they can be satisfied with roast mutton, bread, rice, and a pot of good tea out in the desert. A feed like this makes you forget weariness, and instils new life into you. This afternoon as we were cleaning our arms etc., a whirlwind took our tent completely away, leaving it a wreck some yards of. The other tent, some fifty yards away, was not touched. We shall see the old year out, and bid him farewell with one hand, while with the other we welcome the new face of his successor. Farewell then, 1861 Could we but recall thee, and just look over the days and nights we have spent and wasted thoughtlessly, we might perhaps, like to blot out the remembrance but it is idle regretting. This wont bring back the days gone by; but we may, by overhauling a little our faults and failings, benefit somewhat, and render a better account at the close of 1862, by avoiding the follies of the past year.