Albert River, 20 December 1861.
Journal of Landsborough's Expedition from Carpentaria, in search of Burke & Wills
Commander Norman's Letter to Landsborough
Depot, Albert River,
Mr Walker's party having arrived here for supplies on the 7th instant, and left again this day, to return to the Flinders River for the purpose of following up the tracks they have found of Mr Burke to wherever they may be led by them, I deem it my duty to inform you that for the relief of Mr Burke I consider it is not necessary you should return by the overland route, as Mr Walker's party will, no doubt, do all that is possible, and not give up the following of the missing party by their tracks to wherever they may lead to.
And notwithstanding my sanction to the contrary I deem it my duty to inform you that for the relief of the missing explorers it is not necessary for you return overland with your party, and that you ought to return by the Victoria to Queensland in accordance with the instructions of the Royal Society.
But as much will depend on the time you return here, and condition of your horses and party for immediate service, to overtake and render assistance in pursuing the tracks found, I must leave it to your own decision to determine whether you do so or abandon your horses and return by water.
As all the stores are at the Depot that can be spared from the Victoria (ammunition included) and I have left instruction for their being packed in 50-pound packages ready for immediate use, should you arrive here in time to overtake Mr Walker your party might render some service towards the main object of the expedition by joining in the following up of the tracks found.
I have the honour to be, etc.,
W. Landsborough, Esquire,
H.M.C.S. Victoria, off Albert River, Gulf of Carpentaria,
In reply to your letter of the 20th December 1861, in which you tell me you do not deem it necessary for me to go on the second expedition I proposed, namely, to the south-east, as Mr Walker will no doubt do all that is possible and not give up following the missing party, I beg to disagree with you. I think, now that the tracks have been found, that it is an additional reason for my going on the expedition, and that I will have a much better chance of being successful in the main object of the expedition than I had on my last one.
Mr Walker will not be able probably to follow the tracks of Mr Burke and his companions, as too long a time has elapsed since these tracks were made.
In conclusion I thank you for the sanction you have given me to proceed on this expedition, especially as I never would have had anything to do with it had I imagined that I would have been checked in going the way I now propose; for all along I thought it would be the way where Burke's tracks were most likely to be found, and more particularly after I learned from Messrs. Cornish and Buchanan that they had seen what they believed to be the tracks of Burke's party, about 200 miles to the westward of Mount Narien.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Captain Norman, H.M.C.S. Victoria, Commander-in-Chief of Northern Expedition Parties.