Continuation of the Journal of W Landsborough,
Commander of the party organised at Brisbane to search
from the Albert River, Gulf of Carpentaria, for Burke's Party.
Tuesday, 4 February 1862.
Since the 19th ultimo, the date of my arrival at the Depot from the expedition to the south-west, I have been in constant expectation of a boat from H.M.C.S. Victoria. Late this evening I was glad to welcome the arrival of Lieutenant Gascoyne. The news he gave us of the death of Mr Frost (who he told us had died by the accidental discharge of a gun) occasioned great regret.
Wednesday, 5 February 1862.
Having received an invitation from Lieutenant Gascoyne to accompany him to the Victoria I availed myself of it, and had a pleasant sail down the river and a short distance out to sea to where the vessel was stationed. We arrived late in the evening and had the pleasure of meeting Captain Norman and the officers.
Thursday, 6 February 1862.
Today I had the good fortune to get Lieutenant Woods to assist me with my work. He made a beautiful tracing from the sketch I had made to show my route to the south-west. The sketch was made solely by dead reckoning. I wanted to take notes from Mr Walker's journal and chart of his route from Rockhampton, but as he had told Captain Norman that no one was to be allowed to do so, I was not permitted to make them. Having agreed with Captain Norman to return to the Depot tomorrow I was, having letters to write and preparations to make for the next expedition, in a continual bustle.
Friday, 7 February 1862.
I returned with Lieutenant Gascoyne to the Albert River Depot.
Saturday, 8 February 1862.
This was a busy day as we knew we were to abandon the Depot in the evening. By the assistance of Lieutenant Gascoyne and some of his men, with two boats, we pulled the horses across the river. In the evening, as soon as Messrs. Campbell and Wilson had hurriedly finished a copy for Captain Norman of the notes I had made in my memorandum-book when on the expedition to the south-west, the Firefly hulk was abandoned. Those of my party I could not take overland accompanied Lieutenant Gascoyne, Captain Norman having previously agreed to take them to their respective destinations, namely: my late assistant commander, H.N. Campbell, to Hobson's Bay, Victoria; Mr Allison, and the aboriginal trooper, Charlie, to Brisbane. Mr Bourne and I accompanied them in Lieutenant Gascoyne's boat down the river to our camp, where we bade farewell.
Sunday, 9 February 1862.
Today we were busily employed preparing for our expedition.
Monday, 10 February 1862.
As there were mangrove mudflats in the neighbourhood of our camp the mosquitoes were particularly troublesome; we hurriedly therefore made preparations for leaving it. When we had packed up as many things as the horses could conveniently carry the blacks paid us a visit, and we gave them the remainder. 5.10 p.m. we started and came five and a quarter miles upon well-grassed plains, and encamped near a fine waterhole. The water was slightly brackish, but not so much so as to render it undrinkable. The plains we crossed were slightly wooded. We came on the following courses: 5.20 p.m. half a mile south-east; 5.35 p.m. three-quarters of a mile east; 6 p.m. one mile east-south-east; 8 p.m. three miles south. Distance five and a quarter miles.
Tuesday, 11 February 1862.
In consequence of having to repair packs and packsaddles we could not manage to leave until 1.10p.m. The three weeks' rest the horses had on the rich pasture near the Depot made a wonderful improvement in their condition. They were so restive yesterday that several of them in galloping and plunging did considerable damage to the packs and packsaddles. As the tracks of Walker's party were so indistinct that I could only see them when pointed out to me by the aborigines of our party, I foresaw that it would be tedious if not impossible to follow them to where Mr Walker said he had left the tracks of Mr Burke's party. When we had come a short distance over fine well-grassed plains we reached a saltwater creek, which we followed up a short distance, then crossed it and encamped in haste, as we saw a heavy thunder-shower was about to fall. Before leaving last camp I made an observation of the sun and found its meridian altitude 86 degrees 3 minutes. The latitude is by this observation 17 degrees 53 minutes. We came here on the following courses: 1.40 south-east and by east, one and a half miles; 2.22 south one and a half miles to saltwater creek; 2.25 north-east half a mile up the creek; 2.50 south-west and by west, half a mile up the creek to ford. Distance come today four and a half miles.
Wednesday, 12 February 1862.
Camp 2, which we left this morning at 7.20, is situated about seven miles south-east from the Albert River Depot. In our journey today, although we often got off the tracks of Walker's party, we did not altogether lose them. Near where we encamped tonight Jemmy saw a dead horse. From last camp we came over well-grassed, lightly wooded plains for five miles, then over flat country for four and three-quarter miles. The land was covered with good grasses and wooded with box and excoecaria. What I take to be excoecaria resembles the tree Mr Walker describes as being probably the gutta-percha. The box trees are similar to those that grow near the Murrumbidgee River. In the middle of the day I halted to make an observation of the sun. I made its meridian altitude 85 degrees 32 minutes. The latitude is by that observation 17 degrees 59 minutes. Afterwards we came out of the wooded country in one and a half miles, then came over plains for four and a quarter miles, then crossed a shallow watercourse and encamped. These plains had a higher elevation than any we had seen since leaving the Depot. The soil was rich and luxuriantly covered with the best grasses, and slightly wooded with white-wood. The white-wood I take to be the tree Mr Gregory calls the erythrina. We came here on the following courses: 9.20 five and a quarter miles; 11.33 east-south-east four and three-quarter miles; 1.30 east-south-east one and a half miles and crossed a shallow watercourse from the west; 2.40 east-south-east for four and a quarter miles and crossed another shallow watercourse; 2.5 east-south-east for three-quarters of a mile over low lands liable to inundation. Distance today sixteen and a half miles.
Thursday, 13 February 1862.
Number 3, our last camp, was situated on the right bank of a shallow watercourse. As one of the horses had barely recovered the effects of travelling on stony country when on the expedition to the south-west, we had this morning to put a shoe on one of his feet with screw nails; the screws, in the absence of proper nails, answer tolerably well. We started at 9.6 and, having passed over a rich, lightly-wooded plain about eight miles, we reached the Leichhardt River at a part where the tide reaches. This river seems to be fully larger than the Albert. The tracks of Walker's party were so indistinct on the rich plains from so much rain having fallen that I gave up hope of being able to follow them. We coursed the river down three-quarters of a mile and found a shallow rocky ford, but it was not available as the rocks were too slippery and the opposite bank too steep. Near the ford we saw some articles belonging to the blacks, and amongst them a piece of an old blanket that I fancied was a part of one I had given to them at the Albert River. From the ford we returned up the river and encamped near some small waterholes. The direction we came today from last camp south-east by east; distance eight miles. In the distance I may be a little out of my calculation, my watch having stopped. This was particularly vexing as I had bought it expressly for keeping the time while on this expedition. After dark we heard the horses galloping and, as Jemmy, Jackey, and Fisherman thought blacks were driving them away, I sent them to fetch them back; but they did not disturb them as they were feeding quietly and no blacks were seen.
Friday, 14 February 1862.
We left Number 4 Camp this morning at 7.50. In following the river up about seven and three-quarter miles to a basaltic ford, where the water was fresh, we passed over rich well-grassed country, consisting chiefly of plains, separated from each other by low wooded country. On the low land we observed salt herbs, and pigweed, the proper name of which, I believe, is portulac. We crossed the ford and camped on the opposite side. The scenery here is picturesque; there is a fall of about thirty feet with beautiful trees in its neighbourhood. The channel of the river showed extensive old flood-marks and had plenty of water in it, but I had to make a minute examination of it before I discovered the water was running. In a fine deep hole below the fall Mr Bourne and I intended bathing, but had to go further, from hearing something like a large animal plunge into the water. To the eastward I made an observation of the sun from a short plain horizon; I made the altitude 84 degrees 45 minutes, latitude 18 degrees 10 minutes 30 seconds. We came here on the following courses: 8.35 south-east for two miles; 8.45 south half a mile to boggy ground; 10.20 south half east three and a quarter miles; 10.35 south half a mile and crossed a shallow watercourse from the west; 10.50 east one mile and crossed another watercourse; 12.50 east half a mile and crossed the Leichhardt River.
Saturday, 15 February 1862.
We left Camp 5 at 7.58. At 8.20, having crossed one mile and a half over a sandy flat, wooded with gum, fig, cotton, coral, white cedar, and other trees, we reached the flat rocky bed of a large watercourse. 8.50 one mile and a quarter up the creek and crossed it; then one mile and three-quarters over a fine plain with grass, pigweed, and salt herbs. 10.5 one mile and three-quarters took us over a barren low ridge, with rusty-gum, box, bloodwood, severn, and other trees, to a grassy watercourse with fine little holes of water; from its being boggy we were delayed in crossing until 10.25. One mile and a half over grassy flats and across another watercourse coming from the eastward. 12.45, having gone over poor ridges for five miles, we reached a fine, rich, flat valley, luxuriantly covered with barley and other grasses; delayed until 1.58 while some of our party tried, without success, to shoot an emu. 2.30, having come about four and a quarter miles, we reached a watercourse and encamped; the water flows from the north-east and shows extensive flood-marks. The valley I named Neumayer. Direction today east-south-east; distance sixteen miles.
Sunday, 16 February 1862.
Sunday. Rested ourselves and horses.
Monday, 17 February 1862.
Left camp at 6.35. Four and a half miles took us across low land, wooded chiefly with (what I take it to be) excoecaria; then a mile over unwooded, gently-undulating ground, which extended up the valley to little bald hills. The land is well grassed. A site near those hills would answer well for a lambing-ground for a sheep establishment. Then a mile over high grassy lands, wooded with gum, broad-leaved box, white-wood, and other trees; then two miles further to near the base of a hill that was remarked from its only being wooded on its summit; then three and a half miles over undulating well-grassed ground to a small watercourse from the west; then three miles over flat poor country, thickly wooded with bloodwood and other trees; then three and a half miles over poor low ridges, covered with triodia and other grasses, and wooded with bloodwood, tea, severn, and other trees, to a small watercourse, where we encamped. Direction today east by south half south; distance sixteen miles.
Tuesday, 18 February 1862.
We left Camp 7 (marked by mistake 8) at 8.16 this morning. At 11.45 we had come nine miles and a half over two kinds of country--the first and largest part consisting of poor low ridges, covered with inferior grasses and wooded with bloodwood, tea, and other trees; the second part consisting of flat country, rich soil, well grassed, and wooded with bauhinia and western-wood acacia. The acacia I have mentioned is called gidya in some places of Australia. Then, after crossing, in half a mile, a strip of unwooded country extending to the right and left of our course, we halted for thirty-five minutes to try and get the sun's meridian altitude, but did not succeed as the sun was obscured. Then, after coming over poor low ridges covered with triodia and wooded chiefly with tea trees for five and three-quarter miles, we reached at 2.45 a ravine and encamped. Direction travelled this day east by south half south.
Wednesday, 19 February 1862.
Camp 8, situated in a ravine from an adjoining tableland.
In the rocky basin of the ravine I think water will always be found. We left camp at 6.40 this morning and came in an east by south half south direction. The country for a short distance was confined, but on descending the valley it opened out into plains separated from each other by isolated hills of a conical form. The tops of the hills were covered by rocks which, from their appearance, were of a sandstone formation; the lower parts of the hills were well grassed, the plains of rich soil, and covered with a luxuriant green herbage. At 9.30, having come over the plains on our old course for five miles from the isolated hills, we reached the Flinders River. The river, we were glad to find, had been recently flooded; in crossing we ascertained it had four channels, one of which was running. As this was the river on the banks of which Mr Walker said he had found the track of Burke's party I thought it would be a good plan to follow it up, and resolved to do so. At 10.10 from the opposite bank of the river we came south two and three-quarter miles, which took us over country wooded with box and terminalis to plains similar to those I have described on the left bank of the river, with this difference that on this side there were more flats and pigweed, salt herbs, and saltbush. At 12 having halted I got the following observation: meridian altitude of the sun 82 degrees, latitude 18 degrees 32 minutes 30 seconds. At 1.20 south-south-east three and a quarter miles over rich well-grassed plains; at 2.5 south-east and by south two and a quarter miles; at 13.13 south-west and by south three miles through wooded, rich, flat country to water, and encamped. Distance today nineteen and a quarter miles.
Thursday, 20 February 1862.
Camp 9, situated on the right bank of an eastern channel of the river.
At this camp one of the mares foaled. Left camp at 7.46; at 8.10, having steered south half east one mile, we reached the river; then changed our course to south-south-east and at 8.38, having travelled one and a quarter miles, we got out of the box and saltbush flats to unwooded plains; delayed then until 9.33, whilst some of our party tried unsuccessfully to shoot emu. At 10.30 came south-east one and a half miles along a plain. At 11.30 came south-south-east two and a half miles to a point of timber, then halted till 12.45 to make an observation of the sun; at 1.20 came south-south-east one and a half miles over thinly wooded plains. The plains in this neighbourhood are thinly grassed, which I think is caused by a recent dry season; at 1.45 made south one and a quarter miles over country that is more thickly grassed; at 2.20 came one and a quarter miles south half west through flats wooded with box and encamped. Distance today eleven and a quarter miles. The foal was so active that it kept up with the horses on this day's journey.
Friday, 21 February 1862.
Camp 10, situated on the right bank of Flinders River.
Started at 7.30 a.m.; at 7.56, having steered east-south-east a mile over rich ground with box trees and saltbush, we reached well grassed land, thinly wooded with white-wood, pomegranate, bauhinia, and other small trees; 9.15 south-east one and a half miles over ground so green with herbage that one of my companions said it resembled the banks of the Murrumbidgee in spring; at 11.20 east-south-east five miles and a quarter across an unwooded plain, and halted till 12.45 to make the following observation: meridian altitude of the sun 81 degrees 33 minutes; latitude 18 degrees 55 minutes 30 seconds; at 1.30 we steered south-south-east two miles over rich plains, covered in places with luxuriant young grass having the appearance more of young barley than any other indigenous verdure that I have seen elsewhere. At 2.30 came south two and three-quarter miles and encamped. Distance today twelve and a half miles.
Saturday, 22 February 1862.
We left Camp 11, situated on the right bank of the Flinders River at 7.47 a.m.; at 8.50, having come south-east two and three-quarter miles through a very rich thinly wooded country with herbage like that on old folding ground in spring, we reached unwooded plains; at 9.20 came south-south-east one and a quarter miles across a plain chiefly covered with barley-grass; at 11.20 came south-east by south across plains for five and a quarter miles to the edge of wooded country, and halted till 12.35; at that place I made the meridian altitude of the sun 81° 1', latitude 19° 6'; at 1.2 came south-south-east one and a quarter miles along a plain; at 2.17 thence south-east three miles further along the plain, on which there was abundance of saltbush and pigweed; at 3.35 came south half west over thinly wooded plains; at 3.50 came south-west half a mile and encamped. Distance today 17¼ miles.
Sunday, 23 February 1862.
This being Sunday we rested ourselves and horses. In this neighbourhood Jackey and Fisherman caught five possums.
Monday, 24 February 1862.
Left Camp 12 situated on the right bank of Flinders River at 8.52 a.m. During last night and this morning the weather was showery. In the morning the rain was accompanied by a strong east wind. Now that I am on the subject of the weather I may mention that for some time past it was so cool that although we were in the sun the hottest part of the day I did not find the heat oppressive; at 10.5, having come south-east and by south three miles, that course took us along a plain of the richest soil, but thinly grassed, in consequence, probably, of a recent dry season; at 10.40, having changed our course to east, we came one and a half miles and crossed a watercourse with large quantities of mussel shells on its banks, but with no water in its channel; at 12.15, having changed our course to south, we came over country, some of which was well grassed and very green from the old grass having been burnt, for four miles. In this distance we crossed several watercourses. Having left the party to look at the river, in my absence a high hill was seen to the left of our course. The banks of the river I found thickly wooded with western-wood acacia; at 1.15 came south along the plain for two and three-quarter miles, and delayed until 1.50 while the most of our party tried unsuccessfully to shoot emu; at this place I observed the hill which had been seen previously. It bore south-east by south from us. The hill I named Fort Bowen; at 2.25 came south-east and by south over rich ground for two miles. The vegetation in this neighbourhood seems nearly dead, excepting the saltbush. To adjust the packs of one of the horses we delayed here till 2.45; at 3.50 came 2 and three-quarter miles south and encamped. Distance today sixteen miles.
Tuesday, 25 February 1862.
Number 13 Camp is situated on the right bank of the Flinders River at a point about four miles distant from Fort Bowen and north-west and by west from it. Looking from the camp, the hill had a long-topped aspect with rather an abrupt western termination. During the night the weather was showery and this morning rain fell, accompanied by a strong north-east wind. Left camp at 8.47 a.m. and reached the base of Fort Bowen in four and a half miles at 10.25. In coming that distance we crossed plains which had, near the river, more herbs than grass; and near the hill more grass than herbs. At the base we found springs surrounded by reeds and clumps of tea-trees. Accompanied by Jemmy I ascended Fort Bowen, the rest of the party proceeding up the river. From the summit I observed two little hills in the distance bearing 60 degrees east of south. From the density of the atmosphere no other hills were visible. Plains surround Fort Bowen on all sides. Those on the west side of the Flinders River are more thickly wooded than those on the east side. Fort Bowen, I should say, is about 200 feet high. From its surface pudding-stone rocks crop out. Almost immediately after descending we overtook the rest of the party, halting near waterholes in which there were ducks. Jackey and Fisherman had tried to kill some but without success; at 12.18 Mr Bourne and Jackey went to shoot at a large flock of cockatoos, the rest of us proceeding on our journey; at 2.55 came south-east and by south over rich plains with more herbs on them than grass at places, and more grass than herbs at other places, seven miles, and encamped. Before we halted Mr Bourne and Jackey overtook us, loaded with cockatoos, of which they had shot as many as they wanted as the flock did not fly away. Distance today eleven and a half miles.
Wednesday, 26 February 1862.
Jemmy and Jackey went out early for the horses. Shortly after noon they returned having only found a portion of them. They brought back two snakes and ate them for dinner. Jackey was bitten by one of the reptiles but so slightly that he did not think anything of it. Snakes are rare in this part of the country. In my last expedition to the south-west I only remember having seen one. In the evening Fisherman brought in the remainder of the horses. The weather was showery, accompanied by northerly wind for the greater part of the day.
Thursday, 27 February 1862.
Number 14 Camp, situated on the right bank of the Flinders River at a point about 7 miles south-east and by south from Fort Bowen.
The weather during the night was showery, accompanied by northerly wind. Left camp at 8.40. At 10.5, having crossed a plain in sight of the trees on the banks of the river in an easterly course for three and three-quarter miles, sighted hills, named by me Mount Brown and Mount Little. At 11.40 came south-east and by east towards Mount Little for four and a half miles, and reached a watercourse full of water from the east. At 12.15, having come one and a half miles further in the same direction, we halted till 12.30 for Jackey, who had gone to waterholes surrounded by springs and clumps of tea-trees for the purpose of shooting ducks. Jemmy and I left the party to ascend Mount Little, which is nearer to the river than Mount Brown. We reached Mount Little in about a mile and rode to its rocky summit. Its elevation is about fifty feet. The rocks looked like granite, but on a closer inspection I found they were of a stratified formation. From the mount nothing was observable except Fort Bowen, Mount Brown, a little rise, and extensive thinly wooded plains. Fort Bowen bore 58 degrees west of north, the small rise south and by east. I built here a small cairn and scratched with a mussel shell which I picked up at a blacks' camp (having no knife) my initials and a broad arrow. Started again at 1.30 after the rest of the party, who had gone on ahead. At 2.30 came south and by east half east, partly on the tracks and partly with the main party, over thinly wooded plains for four miles. At 2.30 came south one and three-quarter miles and encamped. I never saw finer-looking herbage than that along our path today. If it always rained when the grass required moisture this would be one of the best places, if not altogether the best, in Australia.
Friday, 28 February 1862.
Camp 15, situated on the right bank of the Flinders River at a point about six miles south and by east from Mount Little and Mount Brown.
Near this point the water in the river is deep with tea-trees growing near, a good sign that the water is permanent. Last night we had a sudden and heavy shower of rain. Fisherman and Jackey were not prepared for it, consequently they got all their clothes and bedding wet; this however was rather a subject of merriment than otherwise. We left camp at 8.8. At 8.55, having come east-south-east for two miles up the river, over rich level ground, thinly wooded with box and (what I take to be) excoecaria, and green with the following herbage: roley-poley, pigweed, saltbush, and grass to plains. At 11.15 came five and three-quarter miles in the same direction across plains intersected from the east by shallow watercourses, outlets of the river during floods. At 12, having remained behind the party with Jemmy, I got the following observation on a plain horizon of about a mile in length, namely, meridian altitude of the sun 78 degrees; latitude 19 degrees 51 minutes 7 seconds. Started again at 7.43 and came east-south-east four miles on the tracks of our party along an unwooded plain with plenty of old grass on it, now green from the recent wet weather; and along a low sandy ridge, green with grass and brushwood. This land evidently retains the moisture better than that of the country down the river. At 2.40 came south-east and by east one and three-quarter miles over level, well-grassed, and thinly-wooded land, with the exception of a sandhill wooded with bauhinia. At 3.45 came south one and a half miles over poor sandy land, badly grassed and thickly wooded. At 4.15 came south-west and by south one and a half miles over level country covered with roley-poley, pigweed, saltbush, and young grass, and wooded with box and western-wood acacia to water, and encamped. Distance eighteen and a quarter miles.