Burke & Wills Web
www.burkeandwills.net.au
The online digital research archive of expedition records
© 2012

October 1861

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

Tuesday, 1 October 1861.
Exceedingly anxious about the missing party; started out to the cart, found missing party had arrived there all safe on 29th, and started early on the 30th on their return. Immediately started back to lake, horse knocked up; obliged to camp with him and arrived at camp on Wednesday 2nd at 6 a.m., missing party not returned: thought I would never see them again, and an awful blow it would be to me, in the first place the loss of my two best men and the four camels I had so much reliance in. At once on arrival sent for three horses and took Bell and Jack (the native) with me to endeavour to get traces of them or the camels; proceeded east to the end of the lake and round the eastern end northward but no traces whatever; returned to camp with the intention of proceeding westward in search with Jack, and to my infinite pleasure found they, with the camels, had some short time before returned in a most exhausted state, their mouths, tongues, and throats in a most pitiable condition, and perfectly worn out; had they been out the remainder of that day without success they (the men) must have perished. From their own account it appears they, to lighten the cart, packed on the camels as much of the light sundries as they could, and on their return they by some ill luck got off the track and got confused, and after many efforts and leaving part of their load they abandoned themselves to the guidance of the camels who, by their instinct I suppose, brought them safe to a long lake west of the one we were encamped at, some five or seven miles off. On their arrival on the water they were met by a number of natives who kindly got them water and fish to supply their wants, and after spelling a time got some of them as guides to the camp on Pando, where they were rewarded by presents of a tomahawk and blanket, etc. Started Bell out to the cart with the bullocks and blackfellows, Sambo and Jack, leading a packhorse with supplies of damper and water.

Thursday, 3 October 1861.
Invalids recovering; Hodgkinson does not seem to have suffered as much as Middleton.

Friday, 4 October 1861.
Hodgkinson, with Davis and Jack, two freshest camels (Coppin and Siva) and two horses and plenty of water and food, started to run their tracks for the loading they left from the camels. The cart arrived all safe about midday. The bullock, Bawley, never made his appearance, and I suppose has gone to find his way back to Mr Jacob's from whence he was purchased. Cool westerly breeze.

Saturday, 5 October 1861.
Hodgkinson and party arrived all safe and were successful in finding the left articles. Middleton very slowly recovering.

Sunday, 6 October & Monday, 7 October 1861.
Spelling the camels and bullocks; taking off the shoes of the horses that were shod in town, having stayed on remarkably well. The country soft; not likely to shoe them for a time; appear in good condition; bullocks tender-necked. Rather a strange circumstance occurred while staying here. A pelican, in an attempt to swallow a perch about a foot long by about five inches in diameter or twelve inches in circumference, was choked after getting it halfway down his throat, and found in the morning quite fresh and the tail of the fish out of its mouth. A considerable quantity of clover or trefoil on this lake; and at the eastern end on the flooded flat, grass but not abundant. The country in this part does not appear to have been visited by any rain for very many months; indeed years must have passed since any quantity has fallen in this sandy region; the bottoms of the clay-pans are nearly as hard as bricks. A considerable quantity of saltbush of various kinds around the lake and on the flats, with some polygonum on the flooded flats; innumerable pigeons.

Tuesday, 8 October 1861.
Started from Pando Lake Camp at twenty minutes to 9 a.m., wind west and cool, on a bearing of 285°, two miles north-north-west, to junction of Pando Creek till 10.37; in all about four and a quarter miles. Creek is about 250 yards to 300 broad; on the south-west bank of lake there appears to be layers of salty substance. Tipandranara Lake bears from junction 294°; our camp of this morning 117°; south-eastern portion of lake 106°; apparent course of Pando Creek 340°. Within two miles the creek contracts to less than 100 yards, and at camp about six feet. All arrived at 4.10 p.m. on small Lake Uppadae or Camel Lake; total distance fifteen miles. Travelled over a miserable country, with saltbush of various description, and samphire, and small stones occasionally. Upper entrance to lake bears 12° from outlet; length about one and a quarter miles by an average of three-quarters of a mile, surrounded by sandhills and very little timber round it, and that little of the most miserable description of box; a considerable quantity of rushes and a little grass round the margin, and lots of waterfowl. For the latter half of the day's travel we were pursuing a course from North 20° West to North 10° West, and as much as north at last.

Wednesday, 9 October 1861.
Moved round western side of lake for one and a half miles; then bearing 20°, at one and a half miles further struck the creek, now dry; then 1° 30 's about three-quarters of a mile; on a bearing of 350°, half a mile distant a creek comes in from the east--evidently the same creek that leaves the main creek about one and a quarter miles from this same course--forming a circuit as an anabranch, from west to east one mile; then a bearing of 339° for three and a half miles. Found I had mistaken top of a dry lake for creek; changed course to 145°; three miles. Creek now alongside; general course 20°; went that course two miles and camped at a long deep waterhole. Creek dry in a number of places. I forgot to say that the day we came to Lake Camel, the two natives, Peter and Sambo, absconded, after getting shirts, etc. Those were the fellows that were to guide us and act as interpreters with the natives concerning the white man reported before, and carrying off with them a new canteen and strap, which we will much want yet.

Thursday, 10 October 1861.
Started at 7.25; crossed creek at 9.30, bearing 20° to North; recrossed creek ten minutes past 10; same course; then North 40° East till twenty minutes to one; then crossed at the junction of two creeks, apparently insignificant, and went east one mile to main creek; then northward five miles. Scoured great part of the country ahead and could find no water; getting late, and the day very heavy for the bullocks; determined to get them to water; retreated in a course South 20° West about four miles, to a small pool of water in the creek that I crossed at midday, and camped.

Friday, 11 October 1861.
Started with the camels and Mr Middleton, and a native named Bulingani, provisions and water, to go to the relief of the whites said to be in the interior, but at the same time with the intention of returning to camp if unsuccessful in finding a good camp for the animals. On a bearing of 18°, at twenty-two miles, arrived at Lake Perigundi, a semicircular lake from three to four miles in length by one and three-quarter miles broad. The water not very good; the natives even dig round in the clay a short distance from the lake for water for their use. Appear friendly, and we saw about 200 of them--more rather than under that number, and looking remarkably healthy. Camped, surrounded by them on all sides except the lake side about 300 yards off. One of the camels got bogged and narrowly escaped. We kept watch and watch during the night, sending the native who was with us to camp with the blacks, who gave us some fish.

Saturday, 12 October 1861.
Up early and returned to camp. Found it deserted in consequence of instructions given to Mr Hodgkinson previous to departure--that he was to examine the creek southward; and in the event of his finding good feed and water (which at the camp were both indifferent) to remove the camp at once, which he found, and consequently removed, leaving me a memo at an appointed place of his distance and direction, which was about one and a half miles south and west. Two of the working bullocks got off during my absence, and before they were overtaken by the blackfellow (Frank) on horseback, they had got down south as far as Lake Hope; so he reported on arrival.

Sunday, 13 October 1861.
Today I started Palmer and Jack on horseback to look after Frank and the bullocks, when they met with the bullocks coming back on their tracks; preparing for a start tomorrow, carrying a supply of water; name of our present camp, a fine long sheet of water, Wankadunnie; bears 220° from the camp retreated from.

Monday, 14 October 1861.
Started with bullock-dray at 6.30 on a bearing of 18°; after the first nine and a half miles travelled over undulating country of sand, dry flats, and flooded ground. From the top of the highest sandhill at that distance the whole country, particularly to the eastward, is one mass of flooded timbered flats and subject to awful inundations; at those times it must be quite impracticable--the main creek (apparently) upon our right varying from one or two and a half miles in width, with patches of young trees across its bed and sides. If this country had permanent water and rain occasionally it would do well for stock of any kind--having a fair sprinkling of grass compared with anything of late seen; and at fourteen miles on a bearing of 18° came to, and crossed at an angle, the bed of a small dry lake (with lots of fine grass) or watercourse half a mile wide. When rain has fallen on this country it is difficult to say; most of the herbs and grass and shrubs as dry as tinder and will ignite at once--but is much more open and fit for pasture. At sixteen miles on same bearing crossed the bed of salt lake, now dry and of no great extent, running north and south in an extensive flat; spelled and had a pot of tea. Then on a bearing of 357° for nine and a half miles to camp on west side of Siva Lake, or Perigundi Lake; found it exceedingly boggy; and what I supposed was clover, as seen in the distance at my former visit, was nothing but young samphire; little or no grass; watered the horses out of a canvas by buckets; whole distance twenty-five and a half miles; all arrived at about 7 p.m.

Tuesday, 15 October 1861.
Anxious to get off to the place reported by the natives as the abode of the white man, or men; and finding this lake won't suit as a Depôt till my return, on account of its boggy nature and scarcity of feed, I started today to endeavour to find a place suitable for that purpose, and travelled over alternate heavy and high sandhills and flooded wooded polygonum flats with a few grassy patches. At eleven miles on a bearing of about 83 1/2° came to a lake, Cudye-cudyena; plenty of grass and clover but the water all but dried up, a few inches only being around its margin; all the centre and south end and side being a mudbank--but thought it would do by digging. On my way back came on a creek with sufficient water and grass, though dry, to suit the purpose, at two miles, and pushed on to camp. A strange circumstance occurred this evening, showing isolated instances of gratitude and honesty of the natives. In the evening after my return a number of natives were near the camp; amongst them, just as they were about to depart, I observed an elderly man and his son, a boy of eight to ten years who appeared to be an invalid and was about to be carried off by the father. I stopped him and, as I was at supper, gave the youth some bread and meat and tea; when they all took their leave. About the end of the first watch (which was regularly kept) I was awake and heard the person on watch, Middleton, speaking, evidently to a native who, to my astonishment as well as to Middleton's, ventured up to the camp alone at night; and what would the reader suppose his errand was? It was to bring back our axe that one of his tribe had purloined unseen from the camp during the afternoon. On delivery of said article he at once took his leave, promising to come in the morning.

Wednesday, 16 October 1861.
In the morning a few of the natives approached the camp, but stood off at a respectable distance, not sure how they were to be dealt with for their dishonesty, till by and bye the old man with a few others came up; and gradually they that stood aloof came up also. Amongst them were women and children to whom I made various little presents of beads and fishhooks, with which they seemed pleased. To the old man for his honesty I gave a tomahawk with which he appeared highly pleased--his name was Mootielina; the thief I could not find out, or would have given him his deserts likewise. They did not muster very strong this morning, only about 100; but numbers of others were visible all round the lake at the different camps. They all appeared very civil, whether from fear or naturally I could not guess. Started bearing 40°, passing north-west arm of lake three-quarters of a mile; then a bearing of 100°. At three-quarters of a mile cleared the timber that surrounds the water-mark of lake; then began to ascend the sandhills which were very soft, high and steep, for about half a mile or little more, to the highest of them on same course. Changed course to 85°, descending the various sandhills for about a mile; then alternate flooded flats with timber (box) and polygonum, and sandhills, till arrived at a water close by my course home yesterday, and within three-quarters of a mile of where I intended to fix the camp as Depôt; and which will suit the purpose very well, having sufficient water and abundance of grass on a large flooded flat immediately east of, and running north and south. Distance travelled on last course six and a half miles, total distance eight and a half miles to Careri Creek, which seems to flow from the west of north, or nearly north and south; but name of waterhole is Wantula Depôt.

Thursday, 17 October 1861.
At Depôt making arrangements for a start; out in search of the water the whites are supposed to be at. I will take with me Mr Hodgkinson, Middleton, and a native of this country, Bulingani (who seems to say he knows something of the whites) four camels, three horses, one hundred and sixty pounds of flour, thirty-two pounds of sugar, four pounds of tea, eleven pounds of bacon, and some little necessary, etc., for persons likely to be in a weak state. Leave Bell in charge of the arrangements of the camp, Davies in charge of the stores. About twenty natives are encamped within pistol shot; but have made a fold for the sheep and put everything in such a shape that I may find things all right on my return. Opened the sausages and found them all less or more damaged, one tin in fact as nearly rotten as possible, which have to be thrown away; the others are now drying in the sun in the hopes we may be able to use them. We would have been in a sad fix without the sheep.

Friday, 18 October 1861.
At 8 a.m. started; crossed well-grassed flooded polygonum flats or plains for an hour, crossing Kiradinte in the Careri Creek; then left the creek on the left and passed over a succession of sand ridges. At 9.15 arrived at Lake Cudye-cudyena at about nine miles. It was quite a treat, abundance of good water, and any quantity of grass of various kinds, and plenty of clover. It bears 345°, is about six miles long, and fully half a mile wide, well timbered. On a bearing from this southern end of lake (now called Lake Buchanan after Mr Buchanan of Anlaby, from whom the whole party experienced the utmost kindness) Lake Bulpaner, now all but dry (and what was mistaken by me the other day, when in search of a good Depôt, for this lake--very dissimilar indeed) bears 158°, distant about two miles along almost a valley. Saw some of the natives on the way here, and sent Mr Hodgkinson and Bulingani back for one of them to forward a letter to Camp Depôt to desire them to move on to this place--so much more desirable for a Depôt than where they now are. Turned out the animals to await their return. In the meantime three lubras arrived on the opposite side of the lake and we called them over. Shortly after, Mr Hodgkinson and the black came back; we had some luncheon, started the lubras back to the cart at the Depôt with a note requesting them to advance to this lake and, at 1.25 p.m., started on a bearing of 345°, along the side of the lake and at 2.45 left the north-east sweep of the lake; then on a bearing of 32° over sand ridges and saltbush flats. Very open country till within one mile of camp at Gunany, a large creek about sixty to eighty yards wide and from twenty to thirty deep, on which we found a number of natives just finishing their day's fishing. They had been successful and had three or four different sorts of fish, namely the catfish of the Murray, the nombre of the Darling, and the brown perch, and I think I observed a small cod. They offered, and I took several, which were very good--they promised to bring more in the morning. We came upon and crossed a large flooded wooded polygonum flat which continued close to the camp. Distance travelled twenty-five and three-quarters miles.

Saturday, 19 October 1861.
Early this morning about eighty natives of all sorts, healthy and strong, visited the camp and could not be coaxed or driven away. I think they would have tried to help themselves were it not from fear of the arms--how they came to know their deadliness I cannot say. Altering one of the camel saddles that has hurt one of their backs and caused us to be late in starting. Started twenty minutes to 9 a.m. Immediately crossed creek to Toorabinganee, a succession of reaches of water in a broad creek, some apparently deep, spelled half an hour, crossed creek and went over very high sandhills, pretty well grassed, with a little saltbush of various kinds, with some flooded and saltbush flats, and arrived at Luncheon Place, an island often, now partly, dry, on south-eastern side in an extensive irregular lake of about eight and a half to nine miles long by an average of one and three-quarters to two miles--very hot--name of Lake Canna Cantajandide. Thought I might be able to cross it at the narrowest place with the horses and camels instead of going all round, as it put me out of my course. Sent Mr Hodgkinson to ascertain its depth, and found it too deep, so had to go round. Arrived at Luncheon Place at ten minutes past 12, and started again twenty minutes to 4, and travelled to east end of lake, bearing 202° till 4.17; then course of 27° over exceedingly high and abrupt sandhills with poor miserable flats between them; towards the end of our day's journey over a rather more flat country with large dry beds of lakes or swamps, as dry as ashes with a salt-like appearance, the only vegetation being a few scattered bushes of samphire and an occasional saltbush--a more dreary country you could not well imagine. Arrived at Lake Mooliondhurunnie, a nice little lake nearly circular and nearly woodless, about one and a half miles diameter, at five minutes to seven p.m. Abundance of good water and plenty of feed--clover and some grass--bearing of creek that fills lake 350°; east end 87°; west end 303°; north side 15°, distance travelled twenty-eight miles. On arrival at lake saw several native fires, which on our lighting ours, were immediately put out. Saw nothing of them.

Sunday, 20 October 1861.
At daylight about 90 to 100 natives of all sorts visited us; they were not so unruly as those of the morning before, having evidently had some communication with whites--using the word Yanaman for horse, as in Sydney, and one or two other words familiar to me. Plenty of fish, of sorts, in the lake, although not very deep. Cuddibaien bears 100°. The natives here say that the whites have left above place and are now at Undaganie. I observed several portions of European clothing about their camps as on our course we passed them. At the camp we found twenty to thirty more natives, principally aged and children; and on the opposite side of the lake there was another encampment, in all numbering about 150 souls. The sandhills in our course were exceedingly high on the western side but pretty hard; but on the eastern side almost precipitous and soft drift sand; a dray or cart might get east, but I cannot fancy it possible it could return. An exceedingly hot day, wind north. On our way the natives informed us that the natives we had left in the morning had murdered the man said to be at the end of our day's stage. On some of the ridges and on crossing a large flat creek I observed two new trees or shrubs (they are both) from one I obtained some seeds like beans, and rather a nice tree; the other, when large, at a distance looks like a shea-oak, having a very dark butt and long, drooping, dark-green, narrow leaves, and did not appear to have any seeds at present. Started at 7.17 till twenty-two minutes to 10, nine miles, on a bearing of from 100° to 105°; at 8.18 sighted a large timbered creek, distant one mile, for about seven miles, 360° to 140°. At twenty-two minutes to 10 observed a large dry salt lake bearing 341°, north-west arm 330°, north arm 355°, distance to extreme point of north bank nine miles. Bullingani informed us that a large lake lay on a bearing of 110°, some distance off, named Murri Murri Ando. At 10.15 started on a fresh course of 64°, crossing, 11.15, a small salt lake rapidly drying up. At 11.30 altered course to 100°; at twenty-five minutes to 12 to ten minutes to 1 spelled on sandhill, waiting for the camels, they feeling the effects of the steep sandhill. At nine minutes past 1 altered course to 116°; at 1.15 altered course to 161°; at seven minutes to 2 changed to 47°; and at 2.20 reached Lake Kadhibaerri. Found plenty of water and watered the horses (the camels some distance behind, quite unable to keep up) and at once proceeded northward along the side of a large beautifully-timbered grassed and clovered swamp (or creek about one and a half miles across) to ascertain the fact as to the presence of a European, dead or alive, and there found a grave rudely formed by the natives, evidently not one of themselves, sufficient pains not having been taken, and from other appearances at once set it down as the grave of a white, be he who he may. Returned to lake to await the coming of the camels which was not till about 5 p.m. Determined in the morning to have the grave opened and ascertain its contents. Whilst I went to top of sandhills, looking round me, Mr Hodgkinson strayed a short distance to some old deserted native huts a short distance off, and by and by returned bearing with him an old flattened pint pot, no marks upon it--further evidence that it was a white, and felt convinced that the grave we saw was that of a white man; plenty of clover and grasses the whole distance travelled, about eighteen miles. Kept watch as usual (but did not intend doing so) but just as we were retiring a fire suddenly struck up and we thought some of the natives had followed us, or some others had come to the lake, rather a strange matter after dark. The fire soon after disappeared, which made us more certain still that it was natives. Intend spelling the camels for a few days to recruit them; one on arrival was completely done up and none of the others looking very sprightly.

Monday, 21 October 1861.
Up in good time; before starting for the grave went round the lake, taking Mr Hodgkinson with me to see if natives were really on lake, as I did not intend saddling the camels today if there were no natives here, intending to leave our camp unprotected, rather unwise, but being so short of hands could not help it, the grave being much out of sight. Found no natives round the lake nor any very recent traces saving that some of the trees were still burning that they (when here last) had lighted. We started at once for the grave, taking a canteen of water with us and all the arms. On arrival removed the earth carefully and close to the top of the ground found the body of a European enveloped in a flannel shirt with short sleeves, a piece of the breast of which I have taken; the flesh I may say completely cleared from the bones, and very little hair but what must have been decomposed; what little there was I have taken. Description of body, skull, etc: marked with slight sabre cuts, apparently two in number, one immediately over the left eye, the other on the right temple, inclining over right ear, more deep than the left. Decayed teeth existed on both sides of lower jaw and right of upper; the other teeth were entire and sound. In the lower jaw were two teeth, one on each side (four between in front) rather projecting as is sometimes called in the upper jaw buck teeth. I have measured the bones of the thigh and leg, as well as the arm, with a cord, not having any other method of doing it. Gathered all the bones together and buried them again, cutting a lot of boughs and other wood, and putting over top of the earth. Body lies with head south, feet north, lying on face, head severed from body. On a small tree, immediately south, we marked MK Oct. 21, '61. Immediately this was over we questioned the native further on the subject of his death. He says he was killed by a stroke from what the natives use as a sword (an instrument of semicircular form) five to eight feet long and very formidable. He showed us where the whites had been in camp when attacked. We saw lots of fish bones but no evidence then on the trees to suppose whites had been there. They had certainly chosen a very bad camp in the centre of a box scrub with native huts within 150 to 200 yards of them. On further examination we found the dung of camels and horse or horses, evidently tied up a long time ago. Between that and the grave we found another grave, evidently dug with a spade or shovel, and a lot of human hair of two colours, that had become decomposed, on the skin of the skull, and fallen off in flakes--some of which I have also taken. I fancy they must all have been murdered here; dug out the new-formed grave with a stick (the only instrument we had) but found no remains of bodies save one little bone. The black accounted for this in this manner, he says they had eaten them. Found in an old fireplace immediately adjoining what appeared to be bones very well burned, but not in any quantity. In and about the last grave named a piece of light blue tweed and fragments of paper and small pieces of a Nautical Almanac were found, and an exploded Eley's cartridge. No appearance on any of the trees of bullet marks as if a struggle had taken place. On a further examination of the blacks' camp where the pint pot was found there was also found a tin canteen, similar to what is used for keeping naphtha in, or some such stuff, both of which we keep. The native says that any memos the whites had are back on the last camp we were at on the lake, with the natives, as well as the ironwork of saddles which on our return we mean to endeavour to recover if the blacks can be found; it may be rash but there is necessity for it. I intend before returning to have a further search. No natives yet seen here.

Tuesday, 22 October 1861.
Breakfasted and are just about to get in the horses to have a further search when the natives make their appearance within half a mile of us, making for some of their old huts. Immediately on observing us made off at full speed. Mounted the horses and soon overtook one fellow in much fear. In the pursuit the blackfellow with us was thrown from his horse; the horse followed and came up with us just as we pulled the frightened fellow up. Immediately after our blackfellow came up, mounted his horse, and requested us at once to shoot the savage, as he knew him to be one of the murderers of the man or party; but we declined, thinking we might be able to glean something of the others from him. On taking him back from where we caught him to the camp, he brought us to a camp (old) of the natives, and there dug up a quantity of baked horsehair for saddle stuffing. He says everything of the saddlery was burned, the ironwork kept and the other bodies eaten--a sad end of the poor fellows. He stated that there is a pistol north-east of us at a creek which I have sent him to fetch; and a rifle or gun at the lake we last passed which, with the other articles, we will endeavour to recover. Exceedingly hot; windy and looks as if it would rain. The natives describe the country from south to north of east as being destitute of water or creeks, which I afterwards found cause to doubt. I have marked a tree here on north side MK Oct. 22, '61; west side, Dig 1 ft.; where I will bury a memo in case anyone should see my tracks, that they may know the fate of the party we are in search of. There are tens of thousands of the flock pigeon here; in fact since we came north of Lake Torrens they have been very numerous and at same time very wary. Mr Hodgkinson has been very successful in killing as many of them as we can use, mixed with a little bacon. Before the native went to fetch the pistol he displayed on his body, both before and behind, the marks of ball and shot wounds now quite healed. One ball inside of left knee so disabled him that he had to be carried about (as he states) for some considerable time; he has also the mark of a pistol bullet on right collarbone; and on his breast a number of shot--some now in the flesh but healed. His family, consisting of four lubras and two boys, remained close to our camp awaiting his return, which he said (from pointing to the sun) would be 10 or 11 o'clock next day. When called at twenty minutes to 11 p.m. to take my watch, I had not been on duty ten minutes when I observed a signal fire in the direction he had gone, about six miles distant, and wondered he did not make his appearance, but all was quiet for the rest of the night, excepting that at intervals the fire was replenished.

Wednesday, 23 October 1861.
4 a.m. Just as we were getting up, not very clear yet, headed by the fellow I yesterday sent for the pistol, came about forty others bearing torches, shields, etc. etc. etc., shouting and kicking up a great noise and evidently endeavouring to surround us. I immediately ordered them back, also telling the native that was with me to tell them that if they did not keep back I would fire upon them, which they one and all disregarded--some were then within a few paces of us, the others at various other distances. I requested Hodgkinson and Middleton to be ready with their arms and fire when desired. Seeing nothing else left but to be butchered ourselves, I gave the word Fire. A few of those closest retired a few paces and were being encouraged on to the attack when we repeated our fire; and until several rounds were fired into them (and no doubt many felt the effects) they did not wholly retire. I am afraid the messenger, the greatest vagabond of the lot, escaped scathless. They then took to the lake, and a few came round the western side of it, southward, whom we favoured with a few dropping shots to show the danger they were in by the distance the rifles would carry on the water. They then cleared off and we finished with them. I then buried the memo for any person that might happen to follow my footsteps, at the same time informing them to beware of the natives as we had, in self-defence, to fire upon them. I have no doubt, from the manner they came up, that they at once considered us an easy prey; but I fancy they miscalculated and I hope it may prove a useful lesson to them in future. Got breakfast ready and over without further molestation and started at 10.30 on a bearing of 197°. At 11.15 reached a recently-flooded richly-grassed flat, surrounded by a margin of trees; the main bulk of it lying south of our course; thence bearing 202°, stopping twenty minutes for camels; and proceeding and at 12.30 crossing north-west end of another dry lake or grassed and clovered flat similar to the other. At 1.20 made a large box creek with occasional gums, about from fifty to sixty yards wide and eighteen to twenty feet deep, sandy bottom, where we struck it perfectly dry where a stream flows to west of north with immense side creeks (I fancy Cooper's Creek is a branch of it); followed its bed in its course northward and at 2 p.m. reached a waterhole with no very considerable quantity of water. Watered the camels and horses. This creek is named Werridi Marara. From thence Lake Buchanan bears 232° 30'; Kadhiberri 41°; Lake Mooliondhurunnie 296°. Crossed the creek and went on a bearing of 215° 30 minutes till 6 p.m., striking same creek and following its bed (dry) for about two miles and reached Dharannie Creek; a little indifferent water in its bed, very steep banks (about thirty feet high) and sixty yards broad. The bed of the creek from where we struck it at 6 p.m. was chiefly rocky or conglomerate stone resembling burned limestone.

Thursday, 24 October 1861.
Left at 7.15 bearing 215°; travelling one hour and twenty minutes over splendid grassy flats with low intervening sand-ridges. At five minutes to ten made Arannie, a recently-dried lake (abundance of clover and grasses) three miles long by one broad, at rightangles to our course, and struck it quarter of a mile from its northern extremity. At 10.22 made Ityamudkie, another recently-dried lake; plenty of luxuriant feed. At ten minutes to 11 reached its western border at a creek called Antiwocarra, with no great quantity of water, flowing from 320°. At 1 p.m. left Antiwocarra. At five minutes to 2 made a large flooded flat, recently under water, with a great abundance of clover and grasses reaching as far as the eye can trace. At rightangles to our course at 2.15 reached its western border, and at 2.25 reached the Depôt at Lake Buchanan or Cudye-cudyena--the place where I directed the camp to be shifted to--and found everything in good order, much to my satisfaction. My black female messengers it appears did not go back at once to our camp with the note I gave them, and consequently they did not get here till Sunday.

Friday, 25 October 1861.
At camp very much the appearance of rain but none has fallen. Clearing off any heavy trees round our camp that could be used by natives as places of concealment. Have made up my mind to send a party into the settled districts as far as Blanchewater with such information regarding the object of my search and as much general information as is in my power, with copy of journal and tracing showing our route, which Mr. Hodgkinson will be better able to do neatly at Blanchewater than here in the tents; although he has made here on the spot such a one as would give a very good idea of all that is necessary. No part of this country has had any rain for very many months; the grasses and herbage generally on the hilly ground being like tinder. If it had an ordinary share it would be an excellent healthy stock country. From the numbers of natives and their excellent condition I am satisfied that many lakes and creeks in this part are permanent; and as I mean to give it a good look over I have come to the conclusion that I will require a further supply of flour, tea, sugar, and a few little et ceteras, and will therefore send horses with the party that goes to Blanchewater under the guidance of Mr. Hodgkinson to bring up additional supplies, trusting to get them there, and at the same time hoping this course may meet the approbation of the Government; for in so doing I adopt the course I would pursue on my own account and therefore do it on theirs. The men are in excellent health and good spirits, and the animals except the camels (they cannot stand the heavy hills of sand if at all hot, which it was on our last trip) are all in good condition--many of them much better than when we left Adelaide. The wind is blowing from all parts of the compass but rather cool. For days previous it kept from the north and generally very hot indeed. As yet no rare specimens obtained of birds, animals, or anything else.

Saturday, 26 October 1861.
Threatens very much for rain; very sultry; sun overcast; and wind from every quarter except north. Will start Mr Hodgkinson, Bell, Wylde, and Jack (the native) on Monday 28th October if nothing comes in the way, and will request Mr Hodgkinson to endeavour to procure a native that can speak the language of the natives here; as those we have got do not know one word nor, on the contrary, do the natives here understand them. They all circumcise and principally knock out the two front teeth of the upper jaw. After all the threatening for rain the day has closed without any.

Sunday, 27 October 1861.
Wind south and sultry; everything ready for the return party making a start tomorrow; I expect them to be absent about three weeks. I am sorry so much time should be lost; however should any rain fall ere they return I will go over to Cooper's Creek Depôt; but the country is so exceedingly dry in this region at present that, unless I can make out to hit upon those places where water has been left by the last flood, it would be quite impossible to travel with anything like safety. Not a single quart of water (surface left by rain) has been fallen in with since we left Lake Torrens; and I question very much (from my knowledge of the Darling country) whether Mr Howitt has been able to push his way out as far as Cooper's Creek yet for the want of rain, and am almost satisfied in my own mind that Burke and party either reached the north coast, or at all events went a very long way out, on a bearing of (firstly by account of the natives) 311 1/2° to or passing a salt lake or watercourse (perhaps then fresh) where the natives report that the whites killed their horse. They call the place Beitiriemalunie; there is also another lake, salt now (perhaps then fresh) called Baramberrany. They gave no particular intelligence as to the camels save mimicking their awkward way of travelling with their heads thrown back. A bearing of 311 1/2° would take them near to Eyre's Creek; and I have no doubt that at that time Burke and party went out from Cooper's Creek (in December last) they would have to contend with too much water instead of the want of it, as they must have travelled out of their way, very many miles often, to pass the immense basins, swamps, and watercourses (boggy) that must have come in their line of travel; and at that time all this country, perhaps to Stuart's line of route, could have been thoroughly examined, as I can see in many places large watercourses in the direction; and my belief is that Burke's party were massacred on their return by their outward route, and by one of their old camps. Whether they were all slaughtered or not it is impossible to say from the traces and the considerable time that has elapsed since they were killed. I will endeavour to examine the country all round this locality for further traces of the party and camels; and on return of my party, if not before, will push out a scouting party towards Eyre's Creek and that quarter. I retain the two tins found near the scene of the disaster. This for the present brings my journal to a close.
J McKinlay, Leader.

Copy of letter buried at Lake Massacre :

SABR Expedition,
October 23rd, 1861.

To the Leader of any expedition seeking tidings of Burke and party
Sir,

I reached this water on the 19th instant, and by means of a native guide discovered a European camp one mile north, on west side of flat. At or near this camp traces of horses, camels, and whites were found. Hair, apparently belonging to Mr Wills, Charles Gray, and Mr Burke or King, was picked from the surface of a grave dug by a spade, and from the skull of a European buried by the natives. Other less important traces--such as a pannican, oil can, saddle stuffing, etc., have been found. Beware of the natives; upon whom we have had to fire. We do not intend to return to Adelaide, but proceed to west of north. From information, all Burke's party were killed and eaten.

I have, etc, John McKinlay

PS. All the party in good health. If you had any difficulty in reaching this spot, and wish to return to Adelaide by a more practicable route, you may do so for at least three months to come by driving west for eighteen miles, then south of west, cutting our dray track within thirty miles. Abundance of water, and feed at easy stages.

The preceding portion of this journal was forwarded to Adelaide in October 1861.

Monday, 28 October 1861.
At 2.45 p.m. started Mr Hodgkinson, Bell, Wylde, and Jack (native) with four saddle-horses and twelve packhorses and saddles. Weather sultry, sky overcast. Between 9 and 10 p.m. a heavy gale of wind from west, with a good deal of thunder and lightning, which blew our encampment quickly to the ground, after which we had a few squally showers from same quarter, but nothing of any consequence; towards morning the wind quite lulled.

Tuesday, 29 October 1861.
Wind variable from north-west to south, and very cloudy, in expectation of more rain; about 10 p.m. a native signal-fire south of this some distance. Have seen none since my return--no great loss; none have made their appearance during the night.

Wednesday, 30 October 1861.
At daylight quite a calm; then at 6 a.m. wind from south, then south-east, then east, with a beautiful clear sky and the air very agreeable. During the afternoon wind back to south and then a fresh westerly breeze. Native dogs rather troublesome, lay baits with strychnine.

Thursday, 31 October 1861.
At daylight found three baits gone and found close by two dead dogs. Unpacking cart to put wheels in order, being rather loose, when one of the baits fell from limb of tree, where for the time they were put, and unfortunately our poor dog discovered it and ate it, and in a few moments was dead. Wind as yesterday. Sowed some melon (pie), pumpkins, orange pips, apricot, peach, and plum stones. During the night a native signal-fire seen south.

------------------------
www.burkeandwills.net.au Burke & Wills Web The digital research archive of expedition records
© 2014, Dave Phoenix