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February 1862

Conclusion of Frederick Walker's journal, 25 January-29 April 1862.
State Library of Victoria, MS 13071, Box 2088A/3c (Item 4), 32 pages.
Argus, 11 November 1862, page 7.

Bauhinia Downs,
21st October 1862.


I do myself the honour to forward to you the conclusion of my journal, also the specimens of metal found at Camp 26, on one head of the Gilbert River, and the hair found in a black's dilly at Camp 5, on the Flinders River.

You will observe, with respect to the latter that a dark coloured plait, which might belong to a black, has been interlaced with that of the lighter colour, and which certainly belongs to no tribe ever seen by me during 22 years spent nearly all on the frontier: nor have any of my men (Aboriginal) ever heard or known of any of the Aboriginal having similar hair. I would recommend that this hair should not be examined by candle or gas light.

I have the honour to remain, sir,
Your obedient servant,
Frederick Walker,
Leader of Victorian Expedition to Albert River.

To John Macadam, Esq., MD.,
Hon Secretary to Exploration Committee.


Published in the Argus, 11 November 1862: 7.

Saturday, 1 February 1862 [Camp 20U].
Course 33° E of N. Went 12 miles over gradually rising sandstone country, the ground some times boggy, but we in general managed to evade the bad places. We camped on a very large creek, but I afterwards found that it and another branch joined a much larger one a few hundred yards lower down, forming a bed upwards of 100 yards in width, and now with a running stream fifty yards in width. This is much larger than the Norman. Is this Gregory's Creek, of the 13th and 14th September? These rivers all in places run out to small channels as they get lower down into the mangoola ground, but then there are box flats all subject to floods. One would not fancy so to see them in dry seasons, but on the Norman I have seen them in dry and wet weather. Called, this river the Jardine after the police magistrate at Rockhampton. A small dry creek was passed two miles back. Marked a tree:

2 Feb

Sunday, 2 February 1862 [Camp 21U].
Went on for eleven miles, same course, 33° E of N, crossed an anabranch of the river, a small tributary in 6 miles, another in 7 miles from camp. Then over a ridge. Within 2 miles came to a creek running SE, and from the next ridge we got a clear view of the Gilbert River Range. They had been seen from the top of a tree at the last camp, likewise the table-land at the head of the Flinders. We are now, no doubt, at some height, but the many thunder squalls render the aneroid all but useless for this purpose of finding the approximate height. At 12 (meridian) it was 29'12; at 3 p.m. 29'9; and at daylight, after a fine clear night, on the morning of the 3rd, 29'20. Marked a tree:


Monday, 3 February 1862 [Camp 22U].
This morning ten of the horses were missing. Mr Macalister, Mr Moore, Jingle, and Coreen Jemmy, stopped for them whilst the remainder of the party pushed on with me. We kept rising all the morning for the first six miles, passing over two diminutive creeks running NW. We now reached the top of a considerable range; the summit was formed of the grey stone spoken of formerly as having been seen in the Flinders. I now suppose this to be porphyry, from Gregory's mentioning hills of that stone: but, as on the next hills or ridges, I observed the conical hills or summits of these rocks, just similar to the ends of basalt columns, I should have supposed them to be basalt, not withstanding their light colour. We went over fine pastoral country, almost downs, so thinly timbered were the ridges with small box trees. The ground, however, is trying for horses, being much like a newly macadamised road. At the end of three miles we camped on a small creek anxiously, but in vain, looking for the missing party all evening. Just ahead of us is a beautiful valley, into which I can see that three large creeks are flowing. Beyond it are the high Gilbert Ranges; and to the north-west a splendid country can be seen as far as the glass can be brought to bear from the top of a high ridge at the back of the camp. The aneroid here was 29'14 when we arrived: it fell to 29'9 before the arrival of a thunderstorm, and after it passed away rose again to 29'12, and there remained till three pm next day. Marked a tree:


Tuesday, 4 February 1862 [Camp 22U].
The men found the horses at the first creek in the next valley. They say it is a fine country, and the creek has large reaches of water in it. Waited anxiously until now, quarter to four, for the missing party. If not here to-night, I go back to- morrow. Aneroid at three pm fell to 29'6. Thunder heavy to the south and west, only a few drops of rain here. The last three nights have been cool, and the mosquitos not troublesome. The thermometer, at daylight yesterday, was 67°; this morning 77°. At 12 pm, it was at 97°; at 3 pm, 95°; at 5 pm, 87°. Party arrived, to my great relief, a little before sundown. Our last tin of bouillie, which had been kept for an emergency, was made into soup, with the addition of rice. Aneroid during the night rose again to 29'16, but afterwards settled at 29'13 until two pm next day. Blacks had followed Coreen Jemmy, who, when looking for the lost horses, had been obliged to drive before him his own, knocked up. He had to fire once or twice to keep them off, but without knowing whether he hit any one. They also followed Jingle.

Wednesday, 5 February 1862 [Camp 22U].
As the party yesterday evening had arrived without two of the horses, Mr Macalister, Mr Houghton, Patrick, and Jemmy Cargara, went back, each with two horses, and they had with them also a packhorse. Four of the horses cannot be found again this evening. An old grey horse, I notice, is always the ringleader. The party are well armed which started this morning, and have strict orders not to separate. Two of the horses, including the grey, were found at four pm, but the other two are yet missing. Mr Moore and I took all the horses we have found, twenty-seven in number, over to the next creek, and left them. On our return from the top of the high ridge before mentioned as being at the back of our camp, I took the bearings of the following mountains:

• A very high tableland, the northern end of which bore, by compass, 15° E of S. I, or rather Mr Moore, called it Mount Barry, after Sir Redmond Barry, of Victoria.
• Two remarkable peaks, one bearing 62° E of N, Mount Orestis,
• the other bearing 52° E of N, Mount Pylades.
• A queer looking range, which we accordingly named Mount Queer, bore 65° E of N.
• A range in the middle of the valley, 36° E of N, :
• A remarkable peak in the distance, we called Mount Picken, after my old friend Captain Picken, now, I believe, marine surveyor at Williamstown. This bore 3° E of N.

Thunder to the S, and clouds passed over from SE to NE, but no rain fell here.

Thursday, 6 February 1862 [Camp 22U].
Horses all mustered, including the two missing yesterday. Horse flies very troublesome.

Friday, 7 February 1862 [Camp 23U].
Fish for dinner, which is acceptable. Horses all mustered. At three pm, 102, saddled up now, and shifted our cap one and a half. 15 deg N of E. A little before sundown Mr Macalister's party returned with both horses; they had to go for one to the Norman, but the other, as I expected, was close to our twenty-first camp. I expected a thunderstorm, but it passed over, with strong squalls from ENE, which, however, had the effect of giving us a cool night.

Saturday, 8 February 1862 [Camp 23U].
The horses, which have been to the Norman require a spell, and I intend giving them to-day and to-morrow. It looks very much like thunder. There are very heavy clouds gathering in the east. Marked a tree:


After sundown, very heavy clouds gathering to the NE.

Sunday, 9 February 1862 [Camp 23U].
Rain heavy at times, and continued all last night: notwithstanding the aneroid kept rising until it reached 29'.11, where it stood until twelve to-day. Sun came out about ten am, but occasional showers continued coming up from NE. I do not like the look of it, for it is from that quarter I expect the rainy season to set in, and this is the time of the year for it. After twelve the aneroid kept falling, and at half-past two it is 29'8; at five pm, aneroid 29'0. A heavy thunderstorm now burst over us, and lasted till sundown, when it cleared up, and the aneroid rose to 29'10.

Monday, 10 February 1862 [Camp 24U].
Clouds are now moving from the NNW, and the night has been fine, there is a prospect of fine weather. I find I am camped between two branches of a river, both now running; but last night's rain has made the water rise very much, and caused a third branch to run. I observe that during the night a fourth was also running. I conclude that this is the 'Carin' of Leichhardt. Jingle having told me that a considerable creek joined that at our camp above it, I first went 67 deg E of N two miles, and found myself under Mount Omer. Jingle's creek was a humbug; but I followed it up 27 deg E of N for one mile, and then crossed over 55 deg E of N in one and a half miles to another, which for the first three quarters of a mile took me 19 deg W of N, and then 14 deg E of N for one and a half miles, passing at the back of Mount Pylades. We were now pulled up by a wall of rock, and turned round WNW, betwixt Mount Orestes and a cliff of red rock, or rather a series of terraces, one over the other, until we found what Patrick calls a chimney, and close to the top of Mount Barry, at south-west end of it. We now went 25 deg east of north for about two and a half miles, and camped. From the top of Mount Barry, we had a fine and very extensive view. We could see the valley of what I suppose to be the Cairns, stretching a long way to the WNW, and as far as we could see it was good pastoral country. At an immense distance 32 deg east of south, were very high mountains; probably the main head of the Flinders comes from them. This corroborates the opinion before stated by me, that the tableland I crossed betwixt the waters of the interior and those of the Gulf of Carpentaria, rose to a great height further to the west, and probably from these mountains were washed the specimens of basalt and slate picked up by me on the left bank of the Flinders, on the 15th January.

Tuesday, 11 February 1862 [Camp 25U].
This morning I first went six miles 52 deg E of N, and then, as far as I could manage to keep the course, about eight miles N of E, but the many deep ravines, in an excessively broken country, have made my route so tortuous, that I wish much we could have an observation, and that cannot be on account of a haze which overhangs the whole atmosphere.

Wednesday, 12 February 1862 [Camp 26U].
At first starting we had to go a little to S of E, and to wind for two miles down a circuitous broken gully, but then we came out on a fine sloping green valley, and next on to a creek, which, as we got lower down, was running. The rock here appeared to me to be sandstone, but of a strange appearance, in layers, and full of quartz pebbles, In the valley itself, were detached masses of all shapes and sizes, giving the place a fantastic appearance. The course of the creek was a little north of east until it entered, for a few yards, into a gorge so narrow that we travelled in the bed of the creek. At the end of about seven miles from our camp of last night, we emerged from the gorge, and our eyes were delighted by the sight of the most pleasant looking green ridges, all of basalt, and covered with the best possible grasses. Two miles brought us to a large river, now running too high for us to cross. This, I, suppose, is the large sandy creek crossed by Gregory before he reached the Lynd. I am again disappointed by a cloudy, night from having an observation taken here. Marked a tree:


Thursday, 13 February 1862 [Camp 27U].
This morning the river had so much fallen that we were able to cross; but one packhorse had a narrow escape. Luckily nothing was damaged. I now found that the river, instead of rounding a range, as appeared from the opposite bank of the river, ran so close to it, in a westerly direction, that there was no room for a horse, so I had to strike over the range, but much time had been lost. The result was that I had to camp nearly on the top, where I luckily found sufficient water for the horses. An observation was taken tonight, but with great difficulty. I ordered the trees to be cleared off a round knob at the back of the camp. In the meanwhile I went to theo top of the range on foot. I now saw that I had a clear road for the next day. I was, however, much puzzled, for the country appeared to me to resemble Gregory's description of the Gilbert. Camp 27, not marked.

Friday, 14 February 1862 [Camp 28U].
This morning I had an early start; some trouble was encountered owing to the sharpness of the quartz reefs, which here are all extending from east to west; a great part of the way we had to walk; however we reached another river about one pm, and got a good camp, marked by me:


I am now satisfied that this is the Gilbert; but I differ a great deal both in latitude and longitude from Gregory. An observation got this night makes our latitude 18 deg 46 min. I am therefore, as near as can be calculated, fourteen miles above the 19th parallel. This also tallies with the observation taken at Camp 27.

Saturday, 15 February 1862 [Camp 29U].
Got a good start. I proceeded up a creek which joins the river just below our camp. For the first three miles my course was 17 deg N of E, but as the valley of this creek trended too much from the north, I took advantage of a gap here. I halted the party, because a peak to my left would give me a good opportunity to examine the country before me. (That must be the granite range which is before us.) I now went nine miles east by compass and fixed my camp on a large stream, which is either the river we camped on at No 8 or a tributary of it. The county to-day has been alternately slate, porphyry, and granite, with many quartz reefs, all, with the exception of two, bending west by compass. The two exceptions trended very nearly WNW. There can now be no doubt that this is the Gilbert country of Gregory. On my map, which as usual I make up every night, I have named a peak Mount Mica; and a remarkable mountain, round which this river winds, Mount Granite. My track left the former on my left, the latter on my right. The slate has inured the horses' feet very much. I must make only a short stage to-morrow to the foot of the range. Marked a tree"


Sunday, 16 February 1862 [Camp 30U].
To-day my course has been again east by compass, and the distance ridden six miles. I saw in one of my walks yesterday evening that a peak, about two miles from Camp 29, would give me an opportunity of having a good sight of the granite range. With the help of the opera-glass I received from Captain Norman, I was able to discern a spur, by which we could ascend the range. This peak was called by Patrick Mount Byrjunece, which means in his language to climb a steep ridge, or anything else, or to spring up. (The same word is also used to express to jump down). Marked a tree:


and another:

16 Feb 1862

Monday, 17 February 1862 [Camp 31U].
East by compass 4 miles to gap on range. A different track about ENE brought us to the top of range in about five mils. In a straight line this cannot be more than six miles from Camp 30, but the ascent has been very tedious. Whilst the men were getting the camp fixed, Mr Moore and I took a walk after dinner, such as it was, to see which way we had to go the next day. In my opinion this granite range is the great dividing range, an extension of what the Rev W B Clarke calls the cordillera, and which terminates at Cape York. I observe a valley to the north. Is not that the valley of the 'Lind'? I am getting much alarmed about the horses. What we are to do for boots I do not know. Not one of u has got a sound one. The best I have now is an old pair given to me by Captain Norman. Camp 31 not marked.

Tuesday, 18 February 1862 [Camp 32U].
Our course to-day has been about 27° S of E, and the distance, as near as I can make it, 8 miles. I have had to abandon ten horses, they can travel no further. Camp 32 not marked.

Wednesday, 19 February 1862 [Camp 33U].
Travelled with difficulty five miles, 7 deg S of E by compass. The actual distance ridden was nine miles. From the top of a remarkable sandstone ridge, surmounted by large boulders of granite, I got a view of a very high mountain, distant, I suppose, about thirty-five miles, and the bearings due north from this camp. There is a remarkable peak at the eastern end, which appears to be detached from the mountain. Marked a tree, by mistake 32 over) U (over) FW (under), but the camp is No 33.


Thursday, 20 February 1862 [Camp 34U].
I steered as I could 45° E of S, my object being to get to a river which must run under a range in that direction. The actual distance ridden this day was 8 miles. In a straight line I made it 6½. What is this river? It is evidently the Lind of Gregory; but I believe it to join the Burdekin. Two very good observations were got during the ensuing night. The latitude here, taking the mean of the two observations, is 18° 57', which places me about 1¾ of a mile above the 19th parallel.

Friday, 21 February 1862 [Camp 35U].
At 8 a.m. three of our best horses are incapable of moving; the horse carrying the instruments is this morning the most incapable. They must be left here at Camp 34, 21st February. All this trouble is occasioned by the want of horses' shoe nails. There were plenty of shoes at the Albert, but no nails. Had I continued up the Flinders, and either went home by my outward route, or tried for Adelaide, the shoeing of the horses would have been a matter of no consequence, and so I told Captain Norman. For example, the horse which led the party out, and which was my own private property, was not shod when I started on the outward route.

I had determined to strike 45° N of E as the ranges to the SE seemed to be too stony, and I was in hopes of reaching better ground. As I neared the valley of the Burdekin, in 1¾, we reached a tributary of the Copperfield, which I called the Quartz Mig, on account of the enormous reefs of quartz. Before reaching our camp, we had some trouble in descending a gully; but at last it opened into a good plain of decomposed basalt, with a river which I called the Moore running through it. I think to the north this valley must open onto a good sheep country; that is, if the climate is suitable. Luckily, Jingle got three ducks, the first meat we have had, except two opossums, since leaving Camp 24. I marked a tree:


Saturday, 22 February 1862 [Camp 35U].
This morning I found that two more horses, one belonging to the Royal Society and one my own property, were incapable of proceeding further. They had to be left, as well as a bag of dried apples and one of peas. I may here mention that the dried apples which I brought with me from Rockhampton have, in my opinion, been the cause, of none of my party having hitherto suffered with scurvy. I have still one small bag left. Macalister, however, is now showing symptoms, which, I think, are scorbutic. In about 9 miles we reached a sandy creek, where we camped. The course still the same, and our route over a succession of ridges, all of which I have placed on my map. The rain came down during the night in torrents.

Sunday, 23 February 1862 [Camp 37U].
I wished now to go SE, being tired of looking for the Burdekin Valley, but Jingle, who had been out reconnoitering, caused me at first to proceed a little north of east. The appearance of the slope soon struck me with surprise, and I could not help thinking that it was lava; but in about three and a half miles we reached the edge of a cliff, which we descended with great difficulty, and found ourselves in an oval basin about a mile and a half in length and about 500 yards in width, the northern end full of water and bullrushes. The opposite side was not a cliff, and the ridge or side of the basin not so high as that by which we had descended, Here were some blacks. A parley was held with some gins, but nothing comprehensible elicited from them. A ride of four miles down the eastern slope of the lava brought us to a granite creek, where we camped. To the south I observed, at a distance of about one mile, another basin, and I think there are more still further south. These, I suppose, are extinct craters of volcanoes. At this camp, just at the bend of the creek below my tent, I observed a peculiar rock. Mr Moore and I examined it. It was in layers, the lowest about three feet in depth, was similar in colour to the granite in the creek, and was full of mica, but it crumbled under my fingers. Next there was a layer of ashes about one foot in depth, but running into a point, and this point was filled up with a mass of quartz; next, another layer of granite looking stone, and then another layer of ashes, then more granite and a third layer of ashes about two feet in depth, and on this the black soil of the plains.

Camp 37

These slopes of lava are good pastoral country.

Monday, 24 February 1862 [Camp 38U].
I now turned about ESE. In about six miles and a half we crossed a river called by my men Yananoa; its course was NE. We attempted to cross the dividing range betwixt it and a valley to the east, but failed, and had to camp in a narrow gully where to our great relief, Coreen Jemmy shot a kangaroo. In the evening, with much trouble owing to the dilapidated state of my boots, I reached the summit of the range, and determined upon my route for the next day.

Camp 38

Tuesday, 25 February 1862 [Camp 39U].
Started a little south of east. In about three miles and a half we reached the edge of a red sandstone cliff, and under it an extensive valley was seen stretching to the north of east. Descended the cliff with some trouble, and after a ride of five miles camped on a creek. The rain came down in earnest, and we were delayed here until 3rd March. The country has become very boggy. Luckily, Coreen Jemmy shot another kangaroo and three opossums were got by Jemmy Cargara and him. I marked a tree on one side 39 over - over FW under; on the other side RSV over 25th Feb to 3rd March. The wet ground improved the horses, and by the evening of 2nd March were all fit to go on again.

25 Feb - 3 Mar


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