Darling River, 22 July 1862.
Journal of Landsborough's Expedition from Carpentaria, in search of Burke & Wills
Tintinalagy, Darling River,
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 21st ultimo handed to me on the 14th instant at Mount Murchison by Mr Verdon. You will no doubt have received my last letter informing you that, as I was led to suppose that the grass was better at Mount Murchison than at Menindie, I remained there for instructions from you.
As I had come to the conclusion that, as Mr Howitt was in South Australia, it would be unnecessary for me to take any steps to inform him of my return from the Gulf of Carpentaria in accordance with the instructions I received from you, we are here on our way to Melbourne. Having lost some of our horses we have been delayed here for a few days, and may be delayed longer as the camel is away. The camel I should have mentioned earlier we brought with us from Bunnawanah.
This has been a bad season for coming down the river, so much so that one of the oldest settlers says he never saw the grass so scarce as it now is. We have however, I hope, got over the worst part of the river as the country is getting green from the rain that has fallen recently.
On our way to Euston I hope to dispose of the horses and material of the expedition. From Euston I intend sending Gleeson and a man I have hired with the camel to Melbourne. To pay their expenses I will advance Gleeson a sufficient sum. To Gleeson's assistant I have promised the usual wages from the date of our arrival at Euston. To drive the camel I will probably give them two riding-horses and a packhorse. With them I will send an Expedition horse and the foal that was dropped near the Gulf of Carpentaria, which I dare say the Royal Society will sell me to take to Queensland as a relic of my expedition. I hope you will excuse my engaging an assistant for Gleeson, as Mr Bourne and the three aborigines, who have been a long time engaged in this expedition, are anxious to get to Melbourne to return to Queensland. When we reach Euston we intend taking the coach.
From the paper I learn there is an impression abroad that I did not come by a likely route for finding Burke's party, and that it appeared by my letter that I had been commissioned to open up a route for stock to the Gulf.
With regard to the latter I received the command of my party from the Colonial Secretary of Queensland, and he certainly gave me no instructions respecting the route I was to take, but for which he referred me to your instructions. In these it was contemplated that I should return by sea. Had it been contemplated that I was to have come back overland my instructions would have been, I dare say, to have come back by Mount Stuart. From having travelled in the end of last year about halfway to Mount Stuart from the Albert River Depôt, I consider that if I had waited a few weeks when I reached the 138th meridian I would have had the advantage of the wet season, and might have proceeded by that route, or at all events gone south from that meridian provided I had sufficient equipment for that purpose.
My opinion was, as may be seen in my correspondence with Captain Norman, that Burke and Wills had gone from their Depôt by Bowen Downs towards Carpentaria. I therefore came overland that way, and as I did not learn anything of their party from the blacks when I reached there I proceeded to the settled country.
For my part I must say that I think, with the information we had then, we took the most probable route for finding Burke's party. In all our expeditions we followed the watercourses and went over more ground than I thought it should have been possible to do with our small and shipwrecked equipment.
I never imagined that Burke and Wills would have been able to walk straight from Cooper's Creek across what I thought was in a great measure a desert to Carpentaria. It should also be remembered that when I wrote my letter to you on my arrival at the Darling River we had learned all about the fate of Burke's party, and the time was past for saying much about our want of success with respect to them.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
In reply to the above he was instructed to sell his equipment and proceed to Melbourne.