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December 1861

Journal of Mr Walker from the day he left Macintosh's Station, on the Nogoa,
to that of his arrival at the Albert River, Gulf of Carpentaria.

London, Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, Volume 33, 1863.

Sunday, 1 December 1861. [Camp 55, Leichhardt River]
To-day has been an annoying day. I first went WbyN to some sandstone cliffs, descended from them WSW. to a saltwater creek, which we had to run up ESE for nearly 4 miles, and the last corner took us east to complete the 4 miles, so that we have come back parallel to our course. We now found some small holes of fresh water; having crossed this, we went WbyN and WNW, when we at last got to the Leichhardt River--the water as salt as brine. We ran it up SSE by compass for 8 miles, passed by a black fishing at what looked like a ford, just above the junction with a creek, which I take to be that of Gregory's camp, 3rd September. The black never saw us. There was now a good crossing place, but as Jingle signalized there was fresh water in a creek at the back of a plain close at hand, I went to it and camped. My men shot two ducks in the river, and a couple of blacks were watching them a little lower down the river. After dinner, or a make-shift for one, my men went over towards the river in hopes of getting some ducks; but as they were crossing the plain they saw two mobs of blacks approaching. As their appearance looked hostile, they returned to camp. Presently it was reported that they were stretching out in a half moon, in three parties. This move, which my men term "stockyarding," is peculiar to blacks throwing spears with a woomera, the object being to concentrate a shower of spears. It was one long familiar to me, and I charged their left wing. The result was that the circular line doubled up, the blacks turned and fled. Their right wing, which was the strongest, got over the river and were off; but the centre and left wing suffered a heavy loss. Distance uncertain.

Monday, 2 December 1861. [Camp 56, Millar Creek?]
Rodney found in a black's camp a sailor's jumper and an empty cognac bottle. The men (black) have all gone to the river to shoot ducks, for I cannot cross over until low water, which will be about 2 p.m. After crossing I made for Gregory's Creek, of 3rd September, and there camped, reaching it in four hours. Distance not given.

Tuesday, 3 December 1861 [Camp 57, Albert River]
Went WNW to the Albert River; found plenty of grass and the water fresh, but with a suspicion of salt; more decided when the tide rose. We had crossed an alternate succession of plains and flooded, box-flats with small watercourses. Gun heard down the river at 8.7 p.m. Distance 22 miles.

[It now appeared that Camp 57 was 8 miles only from Victoria Depot, but having started to reconnoitre with a single attendant, Mr Walker fell in with hostile natives, from whom he narrowly escaped, and had to camp out. The second in command had meanwhile been ordered to camp higher up, as it was not known the night before that the Depot was so near. Next morning, 5th December, they arrived safe at camp.--Ed.]

Thursday, 5 December 1861. [Camp 58, Albert River]
Mr Macalister had found Gregory's marked tree, and also a bottle under ground, near a tree, marked by Captain Norman, with directions to dig. The bottle contained a note, stating the Depot of the Victoria was about 12 miles lower down on the left bank. We now having saddled up, went up the creek until we could cross it, just above where I had slept last night. We then went NWbyW. to Beame's Brook. Some delay took place, owing to the creek being boggy, and I was glad to camp as soon as we had crossed, for I was unwell from yesterday's anxiety and fatigue; and as Captain Norman's note is dated 29th November, there is now good hope of our meeting to-morrow. [Distance uncertain.]

Friday, 6 December 1861. [Camp 59, Albert River]
Proceeded ENE, but had to camp, in order to make all safe for a storm. Night dismal, but the sound of a cannon within 2 or 3 miles was a comfort, and produced loud cheers. Distance, 16 miles.

Saturday, 7 December 1861. [Albert River Depot]
In 2 miles, through a pelting hurricane of rain, reached the Depot, and I had the pleasure of shaking hands with Captain Norman.

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© 2017, Dave Phoenix