Tuesday, 1 April 1862 -
Camp 48 Yenbarka.
27° 39' 45", 140° 7' 30"
During the night our guide bolted, taking with him a water bag. Started early, and travelled all day over earthy plains, sandhills, and dry lakes, with occasional short creeks, forming and breaking up on the plains, in fact, over real Cooper's Creek country. In the afternoon came to Yenbarka, the first well-defined portion of Cooper's Creek - in fact, where it breaks up on the plains. [From in- formation I have since gained, I believe that a portion of floods, after spreading over the plains at Yenbarka, follow a large creek to Kyejerou, thence by lakes and box flats to Appanparron, and finally by the Hope Plains into Lake Lipson of Sturt, thus inundating an enormous territory - from Lake Hope, lat. 28deg. 22min. S., to Lake Lipson, lat. 27deg. S.] It has a well defined channel between deep banks, and is thickly timbered with box. I believe that Burke camped here, but was unable to find the spot. Halted for the night on some sandhills. No water.
Wednesday, 2 April 1862 - Camp 49, Wallconnay, Cooper's Creek.
27° 45', 140° 31'
Started early, and followed the course of the creek upwards, keeping it in sight. About nine o'clock came to numbers of natives' tracks, fresh, and converging towards a dense mass of timber on the creek. Sent Weston Phillips and Frank down to seek for water. They found a numerous camp of natives at the dregs of a waterhole (Appamourameilyan), who at first refused them water, but were soon brought to reason, and watered the horses out of their wooden peeches. The first information I received here was, that a great flood was coming down, and must be by this time at our camp. Indeed, so circumstantial were they in their account of it, that I fully - for the time - believed it, and anticipated some difficulty in getting back to the depot. Two young men and a boy accompanied us, and their great topic of conversation was the expected flood, and that McKinlay (Pinnerou) was surrounded by water. The boy even gave an account of his first view of the flood. He had been cutting rushes, some days' journey up the creek, and looking up, saw the water coming down towards him. He immediately ran and gave notice, and all the natives escaped to the sandhills and stony hills. He then came down the creek and spread the news. He said that in ten days the flood would be down to Breerily (Will's grave), and they should have plenty of birds' and ducks' eggs. Halting for dinner at a small pool of rain water, I found the story slightly altered. The flood was now higher up, and would be some time before it reached our depot (Calliou marou). Finding that on questioning him, the flood each time was placed higher up the creek, I begin to doubt even its existence. I sent the boy and one native back, and took on the other for the remainder of the day. Passed through extensive box swamps, intersected by large creeks, with very scrubby banks. The natives had, however, burned these in most places. Camped at night at the first waterhole up the creek, all those lower down being now dry. At four o'clock passed a number of very old horse tracks, going S.W. on the south side of the creek: they had apparently been driven. The native said they had been made by a large party of whites who passed some years ago - most probably Gregory.
Wednesday, 2 April 1862 - The Depot, Cooper's Creek.
Left camp early, having a long stage home. Sent the native back, much against his inclination, but with an understanding that in ten days' time he was to be ready to accompany me to the north. Met two of the party (O'Donnell and Tenniel) near King's Waterhole (Goy a pedree) in search of stray horses. Felt very much relieved to hear that all were quite well at the camp, and every thing right; the horses alone giving trouble, it being next to impossible to keep them in bounds, owing to the scarcity of feed. The creek country is miserably dry - not a green blade anywhere. Reached home early, having pushed on ahead. Found the stockade put up, and the garden progressing but slowly, many of the seeds either not having come up, or having withered soon after showing above ground. The sorghum has grown six inches, and run to seed. The waterhole has steadily fallen at the rate of two inches per week. The three camels that I left behind are become perfect curiosities of fat, being nearly all hump ; decidedly this is a country well adapted to these animals. I found also that one of the horses had been killed two days before, for beef, and I ate as good a steak for supper as any one could desire. I could taste no difference between it and poor beef, and our black boy has eaten some without the least suspicion of its real nature. The hide and head have been buried as a precaution.
Thursday, 3 - Monday 7 April 1862
Tuesday, 8 April 1862 - The Depot.
On April 5, I sent Weston Phillips and Frank up the creek, with instructions to follow it up for two days, for the purpose of ascertaining whether the flood reported to us by the natives is really coming down. Last night they returned, and brought the following information : They reached the fishpond the evening of the day they left here, and camped at the lower end, not finding so far any signs of a flood. The water had sunk considerably, but the fish were as eager to be caught as ever. On starting next morning, and proceeding up the creek, they found a strong stream running into the waterhole above the fishpond, and in nine miles higher up, the stream had increased to a small river. The back waters and channels being here many of them full of water, which was still rising, they considered it wisest to return, lest they might get involved in some of the numerous branch creeks. Returning to near the fishpond, they found that a billabong, which runs to the N.W., through a rocky gap, and which was dry on going up, now rapidly filling with water. No natives were seen anywhere, and few birds, both, most probably, having migrated higher up. A flock of twenty pelicans flew down to the end of the flood, and then returned. The water coming down was clear, but unpleasant tasted, and is no doubt the old water, which the flood is pushing in front of it. According to this information, the flood has travelled seventy miles in about six weeks. The weather is cool and pleasant, the sky without a cloud, and a fresh S. and S.E., breeze blowing almost constantly day and night. The horses very troublesome; two of the party are daily in the saddle, and can only just keep them together. They have now got twenty miles frontage to the creek.
Thursday, 10 April 1862 - The Depot
Sent up Williams and O'Donnell to see how the flood is progressing, and to bring back two camel trunks lying at Burke's depot.
Friday, 11 April 1862 - The Depot
Williams and O'Donnell returned this evening. The flood has just reached the fishpond, and rose 1.5 in. in three hours.
Saturday, 12 April 1862 - Camp 26, Breerily
Started to-day on a short trip to the north, with H Burrell, G Tenniel, W O'Donnell, C Phillips, and Frank, with thirteen horses. Dr Murray and Weston Phillips accompanied us thus far, for the purpose of taking back to the depot the remains of the late Mr Wills. Any flood would cover the grave with many feet of water.
Sunday, 13 April 1862 - Camp 49, Wallconnay.
Disinterred the remains this morning, and Dr Murray and Phillips returned home about two o'clock, when we started down the creek, reaching this camp about half-past four. Harry Burrell and Frank had preceded us to look for our native guide. Day hot. Flies very troublesome.
Monday, 14 April 1862 - Camp 49, Wallconnay.
Harry Burrell and Frank only returned at ten last night, having been down as far as Appamourameilyan, but without finding any natives. The small hole at that place dry, and, indeed, all these waters are evaporating very fast. The natives must have left soon after we came up, and the creek is now deserted by its proper inhabitants for twenty-five miles above and nearly fifty below the depot. From this place, I believe all the waters seen by Burke south of the Stony Desert, to be now dry. I stay here to-day to get our water-bags ready for a journey northward.
Tuesday, 15 April 1862- Camp 50.
27° 21', 140° 31' 30"
Left camp this morning at seven a.m., on a course N. 5 W., by compass. For six miles travelled over box flats subject to flood, and intersected by billabongs. From here, for some miles, over ridges of red drift sand, covered with porcupine grass and a few bushes, and then came to a tract of undulating sandy country, lying at a lower level. Grass and bushes were abundant here, and it only required permanent water to be well adapted for grazing pur- poses. Birds very numerous, and the fresh tracks of natives going west. The low country extended to the E. and N.E., to the slopes of the stony range running N. of Cooper's Creek. These ranges at this place assume the character of a tableland, and appear to bear away more to the N.E. Several remarkable peaks visible on the horizon. Travelled till half-past three. Having left the good country, and being among high red sandhills, of a barren character, I determined to camp, and in the morning to follow the native tracks we had passed some miles back. Day close and sultry, with a N.W. wind.
Wednesday, 16 April 1862 - Camp 51, Bocabourdunnay.
27° 31', 140° 30'
The wind changed in the night to S.E., and the temperature became unpleasantly cold towards morning. Left camp early, and returned on our track for seven miles. Having again lost most of the birds, which had been very numerous, I left the party in a grassy flat, and went out with Frank to search the neighbourhood both for water and for natives. After a long ride backwards and forwards, and a good deal of searching to determine which way the natives had come and gone. Frank hit on a well-marked track of some half-a-dozen natives going westward; the grass could be seen trodden down from one sandhill to the other. Following this for two miles across sandhills and valleys covered with fine grass, he came to a large saltbush flat, with box timber, where three natives were gathering portulac seed. Heaps of that plant, that had been rubbed out, were lying all round; and from them we learned the direction to the water. Two of the natives, each with a large bark trough of portulac and seed, went with us, and in four miles showed us three small pools of rain-water, at which they were camped. Grass and cotton-bush most abundant everywhere, and pigeons by thousands. These natives turned out to be some of those we had seen at Appamourameilyan, but our guide was absent. Day cold, with a strong S.W. wind.
Thursday, 17 April 1862 - Camp 52, Merrimoko.
27° 13' 30", 140° 32'
Travelled this morning in a general N. course, with a black fellow, who, professed to know the country, for several days' journey ahead. For some miles crossed well grassed undulating sandy country. After passing some ridges of red sand of a barren nature, came on an extensive tract of claypan country, with a general fall to the N.W., and lying between high ridges of sand, which were from half a mile to two and three miles apart. Plenty of grass and saltbush, but rather dry, and numerous places where water would lie a long while after rain. At half-past two came to some well-defined channels, lined with bushes, and containing a good supply of water. A camp of natives, about a quarter of a mile distant, were at first much alarmed, but became friendly-pointing out a place for us to camp, and sending down a wooden bowl of portulac seed (bower), ground, with water, as a present. I had the curiosity to taste it, and found it rather agreeable, with a slight flavour of linseed. The water here will probably last for six weeks. Plenty of grass and portulac on the flats; on the seeds of the latter the natives are now principally living. Close to our camp is one of the fighting-grounds of the natives, where a great battle is said to have taken place some time ago between several tribes, and ten graves were pointed out as the result.
Friday, 18 April 1862 - Camp 53, Bateman's Creek.
27° 2', 140° 38' 30"
This morning, at daybreak, the native camp looked so very quiet that I sent Frank up to see. All the natives were gone. I went out with him, and followed their tracks, which were very distinct, to a sandhill a short way off; one native had evidently been watching us here, as the prints of his knees where he crawled up the sandhill were most ludicrously printed, as were the deep prints of his feet where he had run down the other side. He had been in such a hurry that he had dropped coals from his fire-stick, which were still blazing and smoking on some of the claypans. Going back to our camp, we packed up, and, while the main party proceeded towards a high ridge of sand, some, three miles distant, as if on their course for the day, Harry Burrell and Frank rode round to a large bog creek, where we believed our friends to be hidden. Our trio, just before reaching the creek, which has been called "Frank's Creek," after the latter, found an old lubra, who pretended to be dead, but at last came to life, and pointed out where the others were hidden in the creek. This creek has a large well-defined channel, and is lined with box, orange, and bean trees. Here they found all the natives, who immediately made a bolt - and Harry and Frank after them. After a short gallop several were rounded up, and among them a little piccanniny, who had been left to his fate. He was in an agony of terror, and no doubt expected to be eaten alive. One old man was dragged out of the bushes, and a boy likewise, who, not finding sufficient cover, hid ostrich fashion, contented himself with thrusting his head into a bush. These two were brought on after us, and gradually recovered from their fright. They led us, in a very crooked course to the E of N., across a very finely grassed tract of sandhills and saltbush flats to a dry lake covered with "pappar" grass, and at the east side of which a creek came in. There were two water holes here - one nearly dry, the other good for a couple of months. Leaving this, we proceeded to the east of north, over some high red sandhills covered with porcupine grass, and then suddenly turned to the northward for about three miles, when we came in sight of the timber on this creek. (A number of natives camped by a large waterhole appeared to be friendly, and, as usual, pointed out a place for our camp. The waterhole is probably a mile long, some twenty yards across, and, I fancy, four or five feet at the deepest. Fish bones are lying about the camps, and weirs of grass used to catch them are in most of the billabongs. The banks of the creek are covered with long grass, melons, and various plants new to me. The whole country round is well grassed, and in the watercourses knee deep. It is hard to realize the fact that we are but a comparatively short distance from the dry arid Cooper's Creek. At the early part of the day a high mount, with an abrupt southern extremity, was visible some fifteen miles S. 65 E. I have named this after Mr A Aitkin, of this party. The creek passed in the middle of the day I have named after Dr Murray, of this party; and the creek on which we are camped after my friend, Mr E L Bateman, of Melbourne.
Saturday, 19 April 1862 - Camp 54, Bateman's Creek.
27° 1', 140° 39'
This morning the natives refused to go with us to point out the next water, and were very surly. Finding them very obstinate, I started to run down the creek, which they stated turned to the north. After about three miles, however, it broke up into so many grassy channels among the sandhills that we lost the main watercourse, which, I believe, went to the, west; and being among very high steep red sandhills, densely covered with porcupine grass, I halted the party on a grassy flat, and went out with Frank to reconnoitre. Finding that nothing was to be seen to the north but a succession of red sandhills, I turned to the N.E., the most promising direction; and after riding for a long time over grassy flats and sand- ridge, I think Bateman's Creek a long way above our last night's camp. Numerous small water- courses, timbered with box, run between the sandhills in all directions. Followed the creek down, and finding a very large fine waterhole in a tract of splendid grass, determined to bring the party here, and to follow up the creek as long as it held to a N.E. direction. The banks here have a most luxuriant appearance; they are covered with hedges, of long grass of various kinds, native melons - the fruit of which, of the size of a gooseberry, is now ripe, and rather agreeable - and other plants, among which is one having a tap root which resembles a wasted chestnut; and small hollows between the sandhills are also full of grass, in which our horses are now feeding knee deep. While we were at dinner five natives came to the opposite side of the waterhole, and commenced dancing for our amusement, after which they sat down and observed our proceedings. In the afternoon I went up the creek with Frank, and held a conference with these natives, the result of which is so far very satisfactory. Two of them promised, for the reward of a tomahawk, a knife, a red shirt, and a nightcap, to go with us to a flooded creek to the northward, of which I had already heard ; and they on their part undertook to tell the natives that no boomerangs or waddies were to be seen, on pain of the bearers being shot. They were very anxious to know whether we "walked peace- fully," and seemed quite satisfied on being told that we never meddled with any who let us alone. Thoy stated that Bateman's Creek rose in a stony country to the eastward, and that it had large permanent holes among the hills, with abundance fish.
Sunday, 20 April 1862 - Camp 55, Burrell's Creek.
26° 50' 20", 140° 33' 30"
This morning we had a large concourse of natives to see us pack up - almost all of them young men. Our guides led us across about seven miles of irregular sandhills, drifted into high hummocks, with bare summits of a fiery red colour, and thickly covered with porcupine grass, The flats, however, were many of them full of grass. All the hummocks had an abrupt termination to the north. We now crossed a small box creek, which apparently rises among the sandhills ; it had two small waterholes where we passed, and a large body of timber lower down. From a high sandhill, shortly after, we had an extensive view of similar country, the red tops of the hills producing a very peculiar effect with the grass below. To the N.E. we could just see the outline of a high and, apparently, stony range. At three o'clock, carne to a box creek winding among the sandhills, running out on large grassy flats, and forming waterholes where confined ; the flats were thickly covered with grass. A large camp of natives here, who came and pointed out a camp for us. They again repeated the rumour of McKinlay being surrounded by water. I have named this creek after Mr Henry Burrell, of this party.
Monday, 21 April 1862 - Camp 56, O'Donnell's Creek.
26° 46' 30", 140° 23' 30"
The natives, as usual, flocked round us to see us pack up this morning; but not even a stick was to be seen among them. Four, besides our guide, accompanied us. Travelled for some miles over pleasing country, round grassy plains encircled by high broken sandhills; some of the flats grassy, others gravelly, and covered with rough stones. To the north grassy, but stony, plains extending to the horizon. Crossed a box creek at nine a.m., close by a good waterhole, and we could see several other pools marked by box timber lower down. I have named it after Mr Charles Phillips, of this party. On leaving this creek, and crossing several stony flats, we again carne to high irregular sandhills, of the usual colour - namely, much that of red-hot iron ; porcupine grass on the ridges, and grass and blue bush on the flats. Numbers of birds, particularly pigeons, which were in immense flocks, feeding on the plains. At two p.m. carne in sight of the long expected creek, of which we have heard so much from the natives. The first view was very peculiar - a wide valley, filled with box timber, winding among the red sandhills, to all appearance in various channels separated by ridges of sand, and reforming into a shallow lake of some extent, now, however, rapidly drying up. Below this I believe that the creek runs in two branches, but the sandhills are so broken and irregular that it is next to impossible to follow the course of the creeks with the eye for any distance. Camped on what seems to be a billabong, a little distance above the lake. Young ducks and other waterfowl are swimming about in numbers, and our guide was not more than five minutes before he had caught several young birds for his dinner. Young budgerigars are to be found in almost every box-tree. I have named this creek after Mr William O'Donnell, of this party. The days are warm, but the nights very cold just now.
Tuesday, 22 April 1862 - Camp 57.
26° 40' 45", 140° 21'
Followed the creek this morning, or, more correctly, followed up its course, as nearly as the boggy state of the flats would permit. About two miles above our camp the main creek, I believe, runs to the west of a high sandhill. Crossed a ridge of red sand covered with porcupine grass to a branch which, running into the sandhills, forms a large box swamp. Another branch, said by the natives to form a small lake, led off from the opposite side. I believe this peculiar formation is due to the fact that the creek cuts the sand-ridges at an acute angle. Camped on a branch creek coming from the east, after a short stage. An extraordinary growth of grass everywhere ; in many places the ground is quite hidden, and near the creek the water-channels are so covered in that one is in constant expectation of falling into one. A number of natives camped here, this being the cause of our short stage, our guides being obliged to stay with their friends, not liking our rations, which they pronounce to be "malingkee," or "no good." In the afternoon a mob of thirteen old men, some of them of great age, came over the sandhills to see us, and were most troublesome and inquisitive, although I suppose they meant to be friendly. The natives are becoming a nuisance. It requires the eyes of Argus and the arms of Briareus to keep them out of the camp. One of them to-day being surprised at our quart pots, and wishing to see one, lifted it up by his toes.
Wednesday, 23 April 1862 - Camp 57.
This morning, after a talk with our guides, which was only a sequel to one held last night, I determined on following them round by some waters more to the west- ward. I was influenced to this by my time being limited ; and by the appearance of the country to the north strongly corroborating their assertion that there was no water that way until after crossing the "great stones" - probably a part of the Stony Desert of Sturt. I, therefore, considered it would be the wisest course to make use of these natives in more fully exploring this tract of country, than in endeavouring to penetrate more to the northward on a route where they refused to accompany us. To the eastward I should scarcely think of trying, as we have followed the stony ranges and table lands ever since leaving Cooper's Creek, at first at some twenty miles distance, now at not more than eight. Leaving the party in camp, I took Frank and one of our guides - a very fine specimen of a native - across the plains towards a prominent range, from which this creek rises, and which I have named after Mr George Tenniel, of this party. Half a mile from our camp we crossed the last sandhill (running, nearly N.W. and S.E.), and from it had an extensive prospect. Our guide, Winkely, pointed out the character of the country all round the horizon. From about S.E. to W., he said, we were surrounded by a stony country, many days' journey across. From W. to S.E. by sandhills, with creeks and lakes. He pointed about N.W. as the point where he believed McKinlay's party to be. The country between us and Tenniel's Range, and round to the north, was a very large plain, at our side covered with grass, but near the ranges showing large extents of bare stones. On riding across for about five miles towards a clump of box timber, marking the course of one branch of the creek, I found the plains to consist of a clay soil covered with a great crop of various grasses, portulac, and other plants, in many places up to our saddle girths. On approaching the timber, stones made there appearance closely packed together, like a pavement, but wherever there was any soil, the grass had grown. We found the upper part of the creek to be dry, and, after a short halt, to collect native melons, we returned. I am inclined to think that this stony country, which to the north has the appearance of being undulating, is connected with the Stony Desert of Sturt ; and I have little doubt but in a season of drought it would present the barren desert appearance so graphically described by that explorer.
Thursday, 24 April 1862 - Camp 58.
26° 46', 140° 21'
On leaving camp this morning, we followed down the branch on which we were camped for a short distance, crossed it at its junction with another creek, and going over some sandhills, came to a small lake, or rather, immense claypan, about a mile and a half in diameter, and now full of water. Sandhills surround it on all sides, excepting where the creek enters that supplies it. Flocks of ducks and spoonbills were on the water. Proceeding a short distance we came to the main creek winding through large grassy flats, the channel deep and narrow, and overhung by box trees and polygonum. It was full of water as far as we followed it, about a mile and a half. Leaving the main creek, we again crossed sandhills to another branch, which only forms a creek where confined. In the wide parts of the valley it runs in shallow watercourses through flats, now covered with various grasses almost as high as our saddlegirths. Native turkeys and two emeus were feeding here, but were too wild to shoot. Ducks were very numerous in the waterholes. Following these flats for a short distance we came to where another creek joined from the N. Several deep channels here full of water. Below this the sandhills fell back, leaving a large claypan flat, partly under water and partly grassy, After a mile and a half of splashing through mud and water, the sandhills again closed in, and we found ourselves at our camp for the day - as usual, our guide halting near a native camp, for the sake of rations. It is annoying, but I suppose cannot be helped. I hope he is gradually coming to, having this morning eaten a piece of damper without his usual exclamation of "malingkee" (bad). I can scarcely say in which direction this creek now turns ; there are watercourses and branch creeks in such a network among the sandhills, that it would puzzle anyone to say just here which is the main creek.
Friday, 25 April 1862 - Camp 59, Dampurnoo.
26° 56', 140° 21'
Started at half- past eight on an average S. course. Our guide, Winkely, was very loth to leave his tribe and country, and had a great cry on his horse at starting - blubbering with his knuckles in his eyes like a schoolboy after the holidays. A more absurd sight could scarcely have been seen than thin young fellow, with a curly beard and a plume of crows' feathers, crying as he did. About nine o'clock came to a change of country; high sand- hills as usual, but the flats saline instead of being grassy, and in many places showing signs of salt on the surface. Crossed three dry lakes, the last rather a dry salt lagoon and slightly boggy. A fourth, of large dimensions, near the north. At noon came to where the sandhills fell away towards extensive grassy flats. These flats are subject to floods, and, from the account given by Winkely, are sometimes filled from Cooper's Creek. At present they are covered with the tufty grass peculiar to the dry like beds in the Lake Hope country, and look well. Camped at a good water- hole in the plain, marked by a few stunted box trees and large polygonum bushes. A few natives here, collecting portulac seed for themselves and their tribe. One of the old men on our arrival came over with a large cake of portulac seed, baked in the ashes. The greater portion went to our guide and Frank. The small piece we tasted was certainly very agreeable, and if made according to our ideas of cleanliness, would be a great addition to our rations. It has a sweet taste, rather resembling linseed. McKinlay's dray track about a hundred yards west of us. Day sultry and threatening rain. Flies a perfect plague.
Saturday, 26 April 1862 - Camp 59.
Remained here to-day, for the purpose of visiting Lake Lipson of Sturt, called by the natives a "Bando Patchadilly." Rode for about four miles over grassy plains, subject to floods, and flanked by sandhills. The creek we were camped on spreads out on the flat, forming shallow lagoons. All very dry. Near the lake the watercourse is narrow and very boggy. The lake is about three mile wide by four long, and is partly surrounded by high red sandhills. No timber, with the exception of two or three box-trees. Found McKinlay's camp, but was disappointed in finding neither marked tree nor any document buried. The water in the lake must at present be intensely salt. Numbers of dead fish lined the shore, and the smell of putrid saltwater, brought across to us by the wind, was so offensive that we were glad to escape as soon as possible. From sandhills close by we had a distant glimpse of the other lake, rather to the eastward. During the day we were constantly visited by our black friends, who have an extra- ordinary curiosity as regards our doings. I made a trade for some "bower" against some matches, stipulating that the seed was to be ground into a clean "peechee," or wooden bowl, and that I would bake it myself. Their part of the con- tract being carried out, we proceeded to experiment on the bower; but found that it could not be kneaded like flour. We baked it in the ashes, and found it excellent. We have all at once become very fond of bower, and I believed it to be a most nourishing food - judging from the condition of the natives, who now are living almost exclusively on it. The amount of seed we ride over daily is surprising ; and it is very easily collected. I have tried to find out how long the natives require to collect a day's supply ; the time I believe to be not more than an hour. Rain apparently to the S.W. The old men are prophesying rain here.
Sunday, 27 April 1862 - Camp 60, Appanparrow.
27° 1', 140° 10'
On leaving this morning travelled to the S. of W., along the edge of the extensive grassy plains through which the flood-waters find their way to Lake Lipson. We skirted the sandhills through fine grass, passing a shallow lake not long dry, and at noon came to a watercourse from the S.E., in which is a native well, ten feet deep, of excellent water. The ground all round the well very boggy. Two or three old men were camped here. These, like the natives at Dampurnoo, seem to be laying in a stock of bower; Harry Burrell found one "plant" near our last night's camp. The seed was wrapped up in grass and coated with mud, and the parcel would probably hold a bushel and a half. The native well just mentioned is called "Appanparrow Warka Warka," or Little Appanparrow, to distinguish it from this creek, and is situated in the S.W. portion of the Hope Plains. From here travelled about four miles, over very barren sandhills to some large earthy flats, similar to those of Cooper's Creek, and timbered with box. We here came to a creek with a wide grassy bed and some large waterholes, containing fish. The water unfortunately has the peculiar unpleasant taste of soda, now so universal in these waters. McKinlay's camp close by, with a marked tree, but nothing buried.
Monday, 28 April 1862 - Camp 61, Kyejirou Creek.
27° 14' 30", 140° 13' 30"
We followed the creek for some little distance this morning from our camp, and then struck across large clayey flats, covered with high saltbush and polygonum. Everything as dry as tinder, and most miserable. In about three miles on a course S. 20 E., came to high sandhills, among which we travelled for some miles. On reaching the fall to the south, we had an extensive view over a tract of low country, in places thickly timbered with box. It is evidently flooded at times, and on each side of us we could see a large dry lake bed – probably five miles in diameter - the one covered with grass, the other only in places. Beyond this, to the E. and W., high ridges of drift sand. Crossing some saltbush flats similar to those at Appanparrow, we reached Kyejerou Creek about noon. It is very similar in appearance to Cooper's Creek, of which it no doubt forms one of the main outlets to the N. The banks are about 100 yards apart, and are lined with gums; box timber, high saltbush, and polygonum and scrub cover the flats adjoining the creek, but they have in most places been burned by the natives. Scarcely a blade of grass to be seen in the creek bed - a most unusual circumstance, and no feed whatever elsewhere. After following the creek for two miles, and passing several small water- holes, we came on the main sheet of water - a fine reach, three miles long, about forty yards across, by three or four feet deep on an average. It is full of fish; and a party of natives, we found busy with their nets, could not have had less than twenty pounds weight each man. We followed this water to the south end, where the creek forks, and finding a little dry grass, we camped. During the afternoon the natives passed with their fish, and we obtained a good supply for some matches, which promised to become the current coin up here. Day warm, and inclined to thunder.
Tuesday, 29 April 1862 - Camp 62, William's Creek.
27° 27' 45", 140° 24'
Last night, just at dusk, a number of the natives came prowling about our camp, mostly on the opposite side of the creek; some even commenced to cross, in spite of our desiring them to go home. I sent Frank and Winkely down the bank to inform them that I should most certainly shoot the first one that came across. I also shouted to them the same warning, and after considerable jabbering among themselves they retired. It was too dark to see whether they carried any weapons. Travelled to-day over clayey flats, sandhills, and cotton-bush country for about twelve miles nearly S.E., leaving Kyejerou Creek on our right ; crossed a box creek at about seven miles, with a fall to the S. From here low sandhills and flats, with a little grass. At one p.m. came to a second box creek, running in a flat irregular channel to the E. of S. At a long but narrow waterhole, found a number of natives camped ; among them the old man and boy caught by Harry Burrell and Frank, and our first guide, who ran away at Merrimoko, The latter was evidently alarmed, and sent me the trousers I had given him, with a message that he had run away from fright at seeing us walk about at night. I sent them back, with a message that he could keep them, and that he was "no good." The natives very troublesome, wanting everything they see at our camp, I have named this creek after Mr Wm. Williams, of this party.
Wednesday, 30 April 1862 - Camp 51, Bocabourdunnay.
While we were having our supper last night, one of the natives was caught by Frank behind a bush close to my things. He had been sent away from our camp in the afternoon for being very importunate, even wanting the very food we were eating. It was so very dark that he would not have been seen had it not been for a coat of whitewash with which he is adorned, from head to foot. He was bundled off to his own quarters with a revolver to his head, and a message that if the other blacks did not wish to be shot, they had better keep at home till morning. We were so near their camp, being obliged to take the only open ground near the water, that we could see almost everything that went on by their fires; and during my watch I was amused by observing their doings with a field-glass. At the wurley nearest to us were a number of men seated round a fire. One old man stood up in front of them, and, in a loud voice, made a kind of funeral oration over a young lad who had lately been buried. Frank explained it as being "big one cry over him," and "all the same as preach." The speaker used a great deal of action, and spoke very fast, running his words so much into each other that it was only now and then that I could catch his meaning. I heard, however, that the subject of his speech had "walked a long way, and would never walk back again," and that he had been a good fisherman, and had collected much bower. They kept up this amusement, accompanied by the hammering of stones, pounding nardoo, and the grinding of bower, till a late hour. It was a very curious peep into native life. This morning, by daybreak, the same amusement recommenced, and was only discontinued for the superior attraction of our packing up. My whitewashed friend was among the first to come down, but had to walk back faster than he came, much to his surprise. From William's Creek we travelled over low grassy sandhills and cotton-bush flats, to this place, which we reached about noon. Halted at our old camp, No, 51. Plenty of water here still, and more natives making the most of the fag-end of the portulac harvest. We may be said to have returned to the Cooper's Creek country - being within a stage of Walconnay. The country already shows signs of deteriorating, and looks worse after the fine grassy tract we have visited. In the district we have just left I believe there are not less than 400 natives; we have ourselves seen over 300 of all ages. The head-quarters of the tribe is at Kyejerou, which they state has never been dry.