Albert River, 15 November 1861.
Journal of Landsborough's Expedition from Carpentaria, in search of Burke & Wills
Commander Norman's Letter to Landsborough
After the unexpected delay of this expedition, from circumstances and accidents over which we had no control, on the 4th instant, in consultation on board the Victoria, I informed you that my stock of provisions for the crew of that vessel would only permit my remaining in the Gulf for 115 days, and that in accordance with the spirit of my instructions you ought to start so soon as possible for Central Mount Stuart, or as near thereto as the nature of the country will admit of your approaching it, and returning to this Depot within ninety days from this date.
You having reported yourself ready for starting tomorrow, and that you have ninety days provisions at full allowance, with all the other stores complete for the same time, it therefore only remains for me to fulfil the wishes of the committee, and to inform you that they expect, on your return to Queensland, to be furnished with a copy of your journal and surveys; and that, as Mr Walker has not arrived so as to enable me to make arrangements for meeting him at the Limmon Bight River, you are to consider that no such arrangement will be made, and that I shall look for your return to this Depot within the time specified. And as you have full instructions for your guidance, the same as myself, I feel well assured you will do all in your power to fulfil them, and will make such deviations as the country will admit of in order to find any track of the missing explorers, as well as to meet the wishes of the Exploration Committee.
With reference to your suggestion of starting on a south-easterly exploration after you return to this Depot, rest assured I will do all in my power to assist you in anything that may be likely to lead to the discovery of the tracks of the missing explorers.
In conclusion, if any unforeseen accident should delay your return here before my departure, I will bury one of the iron tanks and mark on the large tree at the smithy where you will find it.
I will also take other precautions to ensure your getting the same information by marking other trees, and sinking bottles with letters in the ground. In the tank I will secure all the best stores, and if necessary sink two to hold them.
With every good wish for your safe conduct, and speedy return before I am compelled to depart,
I have the honour to be, Sir,
W. Landsborough, Esquire.*
Albert River Depot,
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of this day, and to state that I hope to start on the journey recommended by you in accordance with the instruction of the Exploration Committee.
I shall do my utmost to find traces of Mr Burke and his companions between here and Central Mount Stuart, and will, D.V., return within the time (ninety days) which you have given me for that purpose, if I am not delayed from sickness, or from the country being rather too dry or too wet. I am very much pleased to learn from you that you are willing, as well as lies in your power, to assist me in making a second journey in search of Mr Burke and his companions, between here and his Depot on Cooper's Creek; because I believe the traces seen of an exploring party by Messrs. Cornish and Buchanan, nearly three hundred miles this side of it, were of the parties we want to find, especially as that is a route which the Victorian and South Australian parties may not be able to explore, and one upon which my knowledge of the country will, I hope, be of service to me.
With many thanks for the able assistance you have at all times given in carrying out the views intended by this expedition, etc.,
I have the honour to be, Sir, with best wishes for your own health and welfare,
Captain Norman of H.M.C.S. Victoria.