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November 1861

McKinlay's Journal of Exploration into the interior of Australia (Burke Relief Expedition)
Melbourne: F F Bailliere.
(Ferguson 12057).
1863.

Friday, 1 November 1861.
Wind westerly and strong and lots of light fleecy clouds. About 9 a.m. the native Bullingani, who was out with me, came into camp alone, having disappeared the evening of my return from Kadhibaerri. I wish he understood a little English as then he would be of much service.

Saturday, 2 November 1861.
Wind westerly round to south and east during the day, afternoon very strong westerly. Rode out today to the highest sandhill south-east and round to west and north-west of the lake I am now on to see if any likelihood of water to the east, west, or north-west; found a good deal in a creek running northerly on west side of lake and beyond it; returned by west side of lake. The native went away this afternoon, promising to be back tomorrow.

Sunday, 3 November 1861.
Very strong west wind but cool and agreeable. Native not returned.

Monday, 4 November 1861.
In the morning wind light from south, veered round to east; blew strong but cool. From the termination of the trees on creek that fills this lake Anlaby Hill bears 165°; patiently awaiting a good shower to enable me to get to Cooper's Creek Depot to ascertain if any further traces of Burke's party or his camels are there visible, or if Mr Howitt's party have arrived. On my way out on Saturday about two miles from here found dung of horses or mules, of some considerable age, and on my return to the camp one of the men a short distance from the camp picked up part of a hobble-strap with black buckle, much worn and had been patched, or rather sewn, by someone as a makeshift; the leather was perfectly rotten. No traces on any of the trees round here of anyone having been encamped. The flies all along have been a thorough plague; fortunately, and strange to say, we have had no mosquitoes, but thousands of small gnats take their place, and find their way into everything. Our native Bullingani not returned. I hardly expected him as he did not seem inclined to give any further information either as to water or any other subject. He says they are mustering about fifteen miles south of this for a grand (weima) or corroberrie, and informs me that they are gathering in from all quarters, so that I hardly like to weaken the camp here by taking one of the men away with me. I have generally seen at the break up of those great meetings that if they can manage it they in some way or other do mischief, and unless I see a peaceable dispersion of these people I will not move far away, at least for not longer than a day or two.

Tuesday, 5 November 1861.
Wind west; during the day round to south and east; temperature mild. A few natives made their appearance on the north-west side of the lake some distance off; towards afternoon four of their young men came to the opposite side. I sent for them and they came over and had some dinner; after a few questions about waters, etc. etc., they took their leave southward, the way no doubt the rest of their tribe had gone.

Wednesday, 6 November 1861.
Wind east in gusts and cloudy; in afternoon blew strong. Temperature very agreeable.

Thursday, 7 November 1861.
Wind during the night and at daylight blew very strong from the east, towards noon it moderated; sky much clouded but I suppose up here it will all blow past without any rain, although it appears to be falling in the east. Wind round to south-east and south during afternoon with every appearance of rain.

Friday, 8 November 1861.
No rain during the night but it was very mild and close; wind south-east with a few clouds but with very little appearance of rain. Anxious to find water about a day's stage eastward of Depot; started out for that purpose east three-quarters of a mile to top of sandhill close by; then on a bearing of 118° for large sandhill at quarter of a mile. Entered a well-grassed flooded flat for about two miles, and at about one and a quarter miles further arrived at sandhill. About two miles south-south-east is the grassy bed of a fine lake now dry, unless there may be a little water in the creek at the south-east end of it. Not seeing anything in the appearance of the country to indicate the presence of water on this course, I started on a bearing of 68° over sandhills, and at two miles came to very cracked flooded flats, and continued on them for four and a half miles, and at one and a half miles further came to a long salty swamp running nearly north and south, a desolate spot; then a sand rise and another of the same. Changed course then to 90° over sandhills; at seven miles long flooded grassed flat, north to south; then sandhill; at eight miles came to an immense flooded flat, north to south, with great width at its northern end. At two and three-quarter miles further came to top of very high sandhill, and close under (east) an immense dry salt lake or very large flat. From this there is the appearance of a large lake northward, bearing 12° 20 minutes; it may be mirage, but I have observed it further back on the day's stage, and from top of the highest hills it looks more like water than mirage, and will therefore start for it, and if I find it is water, it will suit my purpose as a stage on my intended journey to Cooper's Creek on the arrival of the party now absent at Blanchewater. For the first three miles over sand-ridges, then over cracked flooded flats (grassless) for four miles, a box or gum creek on my right running northward and southward. At the end of this distance I am satisfied that I have been deceived; and as the day has been very hot and my horse appears to be ill I will shape my course for the camp. Started at ten minutes to 4 p.m.; find my horse thoroughly done up with, it appears, dysentery, and am obliged to camp on top of large sandhill at 6.50 p.m.; not a breath of wind and smoking hot. I chose this for a camp that I may be enabled at daylight to see if there are any waters within range of sight.

Saturday, 9 November 1861.
At daylight have a splendid view of the country round but not the slightest appearance of water anywhere; start at 4 a.m. and I scarcely think from the look of the horse that he will be able to take me in. I never in so short a time saw an animal fall away so much. At 7 a.m. struck the tracks of our horses and camels as we returned from Cadhibaerri and followed them to camp. They led a little more to the south than my course, as I now find that would take me out on the lake camp about two miles north of camp. At about 8.10 a.m. got to camp, the horse very seedy and myself not feeling very well. Some natives visited the camp during my absence and I now see some on the opposite side of lake. I sent for one to endeavour to get some information from him. They had started off for our old camp before the messenger arrived but he followed and one of them came back and stopped the night. I mean to take him out east if he stops. I am getting very unwell from dysentery. Wind strong from the north and very disagreeable.

Sunday, 10 November 1861.
Very unwell today; fortunately we have plenty of medicine. Wind moderate from north-east to east and south-east. The native visitor, under pretence of going to bring a net from the opposite side of the lake, took French leave. I dare say when well I shall be able to get another.

Monday, 11 November 1861.
Worse rather than better today. To add to my misfortunes I have got my right knee and back tendons become very stiff and painful, so much so that I can hardly move. Very cloudy; wind changeable from north-east to south-east.

Tuesday, 12 November 1861.
Wind strong from east and south-east. Little better today but leg equally sore and stiff. Getting the cartwheels wedged and put to rights. From the awful torment of the flies, the horses, although on magnificent feed, are not in anything like the same condition as they were ten days ago; to endeavour to escape them they go into the lake, and remain there for hours at a stretch, lying down in the water and occasionally ducking their heads under but to no purpose. Killed a sheep as the part of the last one that was not jerked got putrid during next day and had to be thrown away. Am sorry also that the sausages, after dragging them so far, after all have to be thrown away, being perfectly unfit for use; had they been good they would have been a splendid thing. We find the bacon an excellent standby. Threatens much for rain.

Wednesday, 13 November 1861.
Rain blown off. Much better today. Wind very strong from east and particularly cold, so much so that I can keep my coat on and not feel inconvenienced by it; whereas before one's shirt was sufficient. Wind chopped round in the evening to south, pretty strong.

Thursday, 14 November 1861.
Getting quite well again but knee quite stiff and painful. Very cold during the night and at daylight quite ready for a topcoat. Wind strong from east; moderated at noon and got warm. It is quite a pleasure to see how well the bullocks are freshening; some indeed fit to kill; they don't seem to suffer so much from the flies as the horses or camels. Two of the latter (the Melbourne ones) had their backs slightly bruised and,although constantly attended to, take a very long time to recover.

Friday, 15 November 1861.
Wind east at daylight. Thermometer stood at 54°; this is lower than I thought it would have been and the morning is not anything like so cold as yesterday morning. I will notice the temperature during the rest of our stay here. At five in the afternoon it stood at 100°. Bullingani and his two lubras came to the camp accompanied by another native of Lake Perrigundi.

Saturday, 16 November 1861.
Wind east at daylight; thermometer, 63°; breeze very moderate; at noon died away to a calm. At 2 p.m. thermometer in sun 140°; at 6 p.m. 106° in the sun. Some natives opposite fishing in the lake; one here busy making a net from the rushy grass that abounds round the lake. At sunset quite a calm.

Sunday, 17 November 1861.
Quite a calm at daylight; temperature in open air 68°; at 8 a.m. slight breeze from north, thermometer in sun 118°; at 10 a.m. 136°; at noon 160° with wind from north-west with a number of thunder-looking clouds. At sunset temperature 97°; still cloudy. A further arrival of natives on opposite side of lake.

Monday, 18 November 1861.
At daylight calm; temperature 73° in open air. At 10 a.m. temperature 143° in the sun out of the wind; wind from north to north-west. A number of natives arrived this morning. At twenty minutes to 11 a.m. temperature 154°; at noon cool breeze temperature 146°; at sunset light breeze from north-west, temperature 102°. Anxiously expecting the party under Mr Hodgkinson.

Tuesday, 19 November 1861.
Wind north at daylight; temperature 77° in open air; up till noon blew strong. Temperature at noon in sun out of the breeze 136°. At sunset wind moderated; heavy clouds from south-east round by south-west to north. At 9 p.m. temperature 96°. At 12 blew a strong gale from south-east accompanied by a very little rain. A good deal of lightning and a little thunder from the southward of west, round west and north of west and apparently raining.

Wednesday, 20 November 1861.
Wind working round from south of east to north of east. At 6 a.m. temperature 84°; very cloudy and threatens much for rain - perhaps when the wind moderates we may have a fall. For the last few days Middleton has been laid up with a very bad sore ulcerated throat but is now nearly recovered. I am now quite recovered and anxiously awaiting the return of Mr Hodgkinson's party that I may be enabled to start for Cooper's Creek by a route a little more to the southward than when I tried when last out. At 1 p.m. wind fallen and changed to west-north-west; temperature 98°. Wind suddenly chopped round by west to south from which quarter till dark it blew quite a gale, causing the lake to recede about 600 yards further north. Highest temperature during afternoon 105°; at 7 p.m. 90°. It looks exceedingly like rain and very boisterous. Mr Hodgkinson's party not yet arrived. At midnight a few drops of rain with the high wind.

Thursday, 21 November 1861.
Quite a calm, the sky completely overcast; whether it will rain or not remains to be seen. The water in the lake has returned to its old bed. Temperature at daylight 85°. From a long conversation I had with a native yesterday, who came to the camp, I am led to believe that only one of the whites was murdered at Lake Cadhibaerri at the time of the attack upon them by the natives there. On the return of the party from the north-west they repulsed the natives, killing some and wounding others; the party buried their comrade and marched southward. The natives, on seeing that the whites had proceeded onwards, immediately returned to the scene of the disaster, dug up the body, cut off all the principal muscular parts, and feasted upon their revolting repast. So minutely does this native know all their movements that he has described to me all the waters they passed and others at which they camped, and waters that they remained at for some time, subsisting on a sort of vetch seed that the natives principally use here for food, and obtained in large quantities on many of the flooded flats by sweeping it into heaps, then winnowing it, then grinding or pounding it between two stones, then mixing it with water into the consistency of damper, and finally making a cake and putting it into the ashes the same way as damper--when cooked and fit for use it tastes rather strong, but no doubt they could live upon it for a long time as it must be wholesome. That, with the game and fish they could get from the waters of the creeks and lakes, would keep them alive very well if they did not further attempt to make their way to the Darling (which the native says they did) but I hope soon to see and trust they have not attempted to do so. If they have not done so, and that they are alive and escaped the natives, their relief is certain. One thing I cannot arrive at is how long or how many moons it is since they were attacked at Lake Cadhibaerri, as I then could form a much more accurate idea of the truthfulness or otherwise of the native's statements; but it must be some considerable time as the body I found was perfectly decomposed, and on the skull even there was not a particle of skin, but as bare as if it had lain in a grave for years. A slight shower this afternoon, hardly sufficient to wet one's shirt. Temperature highest during the day 104°, very close and disagreeable; at sunset temperature 88°, heavy clouds all round, not a breath of wind. Hodgkinson's party not yet arrived. If he does not come within the next two days I shall feel very uneasy. Had a visit from about a score of natives, some of them from the north-east, other two from the west-north-west about the stony desert, as they describe an abundance of stones in that quarter. Wind from south-east to south, during the night a very little rain.

Friday, 22 November 1861.
Daylight quite cloudy and like rain. Temperature 82°, wind chopping all round; at noon south and north of west. Temperature 142° and still a cool breeze blowing; sunset temperature 90°, wind southward and strong. No appearance of Hodgkinson and party. The natives in a great stir here tonight about something--about a dozen of them crossed the lake to us after dark, wishing to camp near for the night; but as I did not approve of their movements in the evening immediately sent them off again.

Saturday, 23 November 1861.
At daylight wind strong from the east; temperature 80°, at 5.30 a.m. blew quite a gale from south, the sky quite overcast and in every other part of the country would make preparations for a heavy fall of rain, but I have seen so much of this here that I don't expect rain till I see it. Temperature noon 110°, rain all blown past; at sunset wind still strong from south; temperature 84°. No appearance of Hodgkinson's party. Natives assembling in great numbers on this lake--distributed some beads, bracelets, and other trinkets amongst them, at which they seemed much pleased.

Sunday, 24 November 1861.
Wind south-east beautifully cool; temperature at sunrise 63°; at noon in shade 84°; at sunset wind south, temperature 76°; cloudy. Hodgkinson not arrived.

Monday, 25 November 1861.
At 1.30 a.m. temperature 62°; at sunrise temperature 58°, wind east-south-east, beautifully cool; at noon temperature 106° in the sun and wind; at sundown 82°, gentle breeze.

Tuesday, 26 November 1861.
Wind east, at sunrise temperature 63°; at noon in the shade temperature 79°, very light breeze: temperature at 2.30 p.m. 110°, wind west-north-west and cool; at sunset temperature 90°, calm. No appearance of the party from Blanchewater.

Wednesday, 27 November 1861.
Calm at sunrise, temperature 60°; at 9 a.m. 116° in the sun; at 1 p.m. 118°. Got the horses in the forenoon and went east three and a half miles; first three-quarters of a mile over sandhills, rest of the way over flooded ground to Goderannie Creek; not much water now; then to Palcooraganny. At present this is the dry bed of a small lake with plenty of dry clover and grasses in the dry bed. On the north-east side of the lake is a well dug by the natives about ten to eleven feet deep with about one foot of water at present in it and good. I suppose a considerable quantity could be had if the hole were enlarged. Close by there was an encampment of blacks, in all about a dozen, not the same apparent well-fed fellows that frequent the lakes and main creeks. From enquiry it appears that during the dry season this is the sort of water they have to depend upon, and I think the wells are few and far between. A high sandhill was some little distance off and to it I went; from the top of which I had an extensive view. Could see nothing northward and westward but a jumble of lower sandhills looking very dreary without even a creek with its timber to break the monotony of the view. From the top of the hill there was water at a distance of one and a half to one and three-quarter miles. Depot about sixteen miles distant. Goderannie Creek is deep, with abundance of fish of various sorts, and drains all the creeks that fill our Depot lake, and the creek to the west of the lake over the sandhills. Started the blackfellows and whites to dig a well close by the Depot before I went away this morning. At eight feet eight inches struck water (good). Will deepen it tomorrow and see what supply would be likely to be had if necessity would require it. Party not yet returned; feel quite uneasy about them but suppose they did not get what they were sent for as soon as they expected.

Thursday, 28 November 1861.
At daylight wind strong from south-south-east, at sunrise temperature 63°. Enlarging and deepening the well. Temperature at noon in the sun and wind 106°; at sunset 73°. Finished the well, now being nine feet six inches deep, three and a half feet broad and five feet long. For the first four feet it was a mixture of light-coloured clay and fine sand, next three and a half feet was a mixture of gypsum and blue clay, next to bottom a little clay mixed with chiefly fine sand, then the water seemed to come in from all quarters. Party not yet arrived--exceedingly anxious about them.

Friday, 29 November 1861.
Wind south-south-east and cool at sunrise, temperature 54°, being much lower than we have had it except once. There is a depth of ten inches of water in the well during twelve hours. At 7.30 a.m. two natives arrived on opposite side of the lake, bringing the joyous tidings that the party under charge of Mr Hodgkinson had camped at a creek called Keradinti about eight miles from this last night, so that I expect them every hour--I was heartily glad to hear of them. At 9.30 a.m. Mr. Hodgkinson and party arrived safe, for which I was truly thankful; I was afraid something had happened to them from their apparent long absence. I am sorry that the native Jack, that accompanied them from this, deserted about the inner stations, having heard some idle report of something having happened to the party here. Mr Hodgkinson has brought back with him nearly everything I required. By him I also received some Adelaide papers in which were some Melbourne telegrams, one of which announced the rescue by Mr Howitt of one of Burke's party, King, so that I have been deceived as to appearances at Lake Cadhibaerri respecting the different colours of hair found. Still I am under the impression that when Burke's diary is published that it will show of some affray with the natives about that place, or they would not have acted towards us when there as they did. By receipt of such intelligence, and that now the whole of the unfortunate party are accounted for, it renders my journey to Cooper's Creek, as I intended, useless for any purpose of relief. Had they on their arrival from the north coast at Cooper's Creek Depot only pushed westward this length they could, with the greatest ease to themselves, have made the Adelaide stations. I am quite surprised that they could not get south by Strzelecki's Creek, being under the impression that two-thirds of the water of Cooper's Creek was drained off by that watercourse southward. My impression from observation here is that a very great portion of the waters of Cooper's Creek is drained northwards from this. Before leaving this it is my intention to push eastward some distance to ascertain the character of the country, and on my return to push westward for some distance to ascertain if the stony desert exists so far southward as this; I will then proceed northward and examine the waters reported by the natives to exist in that quarter, and ascertain if they are likely to be of permanent use to South Australia. From them I shall be entirely guided by the appearance of the country there as to my future movements. I am now satisfied that water can be had by digging. By the time I return from the east and westward the horses that have been down to the settled districts will have so far recovered from their fatigue, and be again able to proceed northward. At 5 p.m. depth of water in the well fifteen and a half inches, the water very hard and clear, quite the opposite of the lake, which is very soft and rather milky in colour. Mr Hodgkinson, since he has been absent, has had a severe attack of illness brought on, I believe, by injury sustained from a pummelling he received at Apoinga, near the Burra, from one of the camels, Siva, who at that time was very unruly and inclined to be vicious. He has repeatedly complained and even now is not at all the thing. I trust he will thoroughly recover as he is a very energetic little fellow and the want of his services would be a considerable loss to me on my coming journey. Highest temperature during day 120°.

Saturday, 30 November 1861.
Wind south-south-east. Temperature at sunrise 70°; depth of water in the well at 5 am eighteen and a quarter inches. Temperature at noon 99° in the sun and wind. Temperature at sunset 84°; wind west of south a little cloudy; so it was last night.

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