6 JUNE 1862: 7.
Tuesday, 14 January 1862 [Camp 2U].
Went 25° S of E 1¼ miles, 20° E of S 2 miles, E 1 mile, 30° S of E 1 mile, SE 4 miles, 15° E of S 3 miles, 12° W of S 3 miles, 40° W of S half a mile, 15° E of S 1 mile, (the last three and a half miles down a creek), and then turned 60° W of S to the river, which was only ½ mile on our right. Mr Houghton, Mr Moore, Rodney, and Jemmy Cargara, had gone on the left bank looking for horses, still, however, in vain, They joined us after we had camped at a deep hole in the river, which is here a sandy dry river in two branches, with water at long intervals. Marked a tree:
Jingle to-day saw Burke's downward trail. The spinifex I had seen south of the [Camp] 50 tree is only a spur coming into the river. I was astonished to find the country so good, being on both sides splendid plains.
Wednesday, 15 January 1862 [Camp 3U].
Had a very bad start, and as the day was oppressively hot, I only went a short distance, 30° S of E ½ mile, S 1½ mile. Now, to my annoyance, 40° W of S 1 mile, and then 2 miles 35° E of S, brought us to a good pool of water, where we camped. We had barely got everything snug when a thunderstorm from the NW, which had been threatening all day, came down with tropical violence, making the waterhole flow over, and the river run enough to fill another large reach below us. The rain caused me to omit marking the tree. I here pointed out to Mr Moore that there were specimens of black basalt quartz and slate, besides the greystone mentioned before.
Thursday, 16 January 1862 [Camp 4U].
Coreen Jemmy luckily shot a turkey. Everything that spares our meat is valuable The river to-day has trended more E; had it not done so, I must have abandoned it. 30° S of E ½ mile, S ½ mile, SE 1 mile, 10° S of E ½ mile, 30° E of S 2 miles, E ½ mile, 30° S of E ½ mile, 43° S of E to camp. Marked a tree:
Here we had just got the tents pitched in time, when down came another thunderstorm, this one from the SSE. The country still beautiful. Water doubtful.
Friday, 17 January 1862 [Camp 5U].
This morning Coreen Jemmy, having mistaken the trees of a creek for these of the river, I was led too far to the east, and had to turn south to hit the river again. The ground from the rain has become very heavy, and the horses were greatly distressed. As it is necessary that at the start I should not impair the fine condition they are in, I made only a short journey, camping 10 miles above the 4 tree, in a direction 30° E of S by compass. The plains to-day have been flooded from the river, which in consequence has now but a small channel, and this also accounts for our seeing nothing of Burke's downward trail. Blacks' tracks quite fresh were seen at Camp No 5. A net and a bundle were found, and in the latter a small plait of fine auburn hair, certainly not that of a black. Rain at night. Mosquitoes kept every one awake all night.
Saturday, 18 January 1862 [Camp 6U].
Just after daylight the blacks were seen close to our camp. As they had some children with them, it was evident their intentions were friendly. A parley ensued. We showed them the picture of a camel, and tried without effect to discover where such animals, if they had seen them, had gone. I doubt whether they understood the meaning of the picture. The Flinders, they explained readily enough, came from ESE - they pointed direct for Grateful Creek. It is as well to mention here that this young black was trying to make us understand something relative to the four white men we inquired about, but was stopped by the sinister-looking men, much to the indignation of Jingle, Paddy, Coreen Jemmy, Rodney, and Jemmy Cargara.
Thermometer at 3 p.m., 102°; aneroid, 29'63. One of them brought to my camel-boy a seed necklace; and I gave them in return a couple of Dover knives. Mr Moore and Mr Houghton gave them also a couple of shirts. The young men were good-looking lads, and the boys also of a pleasing appearance. The men, with the exception of a good-humoured ugly old fellow, kept aloof, and some of them had very sinister looking countenances. My course to-day was 25° E of S 3½ miles, 30° E of S ½ mile, SE 1 mile, 20° S of E 1 mile, and 35° E of S 2 miles, to a fine water hole where we camped. The plains still flooded; the river on two occasions so insignificant that I doubted whether we had not left it, but immediately above were, on both occasions, pools of water, rather low now, but with evidently last year's water in them. Above our Camp No 6 are several fine pools of water; one certainly, if not more, permanent.
Sunday, 19 January 1862 [Camp 7U].
Went SE 2 miles, 25 deg E of S 2 miles, 5° E of S 2 miles; we now had to turn 35° W of S, as the river was a long way on our left, and 42° W of S, which brought us in 3 miles to a lagoon in an anabranch of great size, but now dry; 25° W of S brought us in another mile to the river, and by following it SE 1 mile we came to camp at a good waterhole, evidently permanent. The strange course to-day has been owing to Coreen Jemmy having led, as I remained behind with Mr Moore, Patrick, and Jingle, being delayed by four horses not being found. The country is still flooded plains, but now quite destitute of vegetation, as it has been burnt, leaving only the stumps of long water-grasses, and a long drought has evidently been experienced here. The river where we first hit it was an insignificant channel, but at our camp was again a broad river. The mosquitoes are to-night reasonable. Thermometer at four p.m., 91°; aneroid, 29'60.
Monday, 20 January 1862 [Camp 8U].
Went 15° E of S 2 miles and a half, and 25° E of S 1 mile and a half, when a dark cloud coming from the NW caused us to pitch our tents in all haste. I regretted having done so subsequently, for a NW squall ought not to have stopped us, and it now cleared off, leaving a fine day. Above this camp is a long reach, 3 miles in length, and of great width; at it were some gins and children. One of them spoke a language a little of which Jemmy Cargara understood. She asked if we were the party that had gone down the Norman. Having been informed that we were, she said that nearly all the blacks had gone over to meet us, as we had said we would return that way. She said Burke had gone down the plains on the left bank, and repeatedly answered he had never returned that way. Aneroid, at day-break, 29'01; at half-past six, 29'70. Thermometer, half-past six, 81°. A shirt that was in the camp, she said, had been received from the blacks down the river, her own men were up the river fishing. Mosquitoes again manageable. Ana branch seen a long way on our left.
Tuesday, 21 January 1862 [Camp 9U].
We had barely got half the horses saddled, when the rain came down from the NE. I still persisted in pushing on, for we must not be caught by a flood in a country like this, where we might find ourselves out off from the sandstone country by large ana branches. We went S½E 1 mile, then 20° S of E 1 mile. We now crossed the ana branch, and went on 40° E of S 2 miles, having had the long reach nearly all the way in view. We passed by the blacks' camp, but they had left it. 20° E of S 1 mile, then SE 4 miles, the river now running in two or three narrow channels. Here we camped, and the horses had had enough of the boggy ground. The men and boys of the gins below are camped at some large pools above this camp; they were friendly, and gave us some fish, but nothing new as to intelligence was gained from them. Heavy storm of tropical rain from SW at night.
Wednesday, 22 January 1862 [Camp 10U].
As the blacks here had confirmed the story told by the gins, of Burke having gone down the left bank, and that he had not returned by the Flinders; and as this was evidently what the blacks at Camp No. 5 had tried to make us comprehend, I saw no use in following up the river. Moreover, the continued heavy rains had made the plains very boggy, and I was apprehensive that the wet season had set in three weeks earlier than usual. I therefore determined upon striking across the country for the Norman; a course 25° N of E by compass, ought to take us in three days to a spot 6 miles below my 41st tree. We started at 2 p.m., and, after dreadful work for the horses across the plains, and passing over two ana branches, we reached the sandstone country, which the blacks here call 'Mangolas,' in six miles and a half. We camped ½ mile further, near a good-sized creek, which no doubt joins the ana-branch with the big lagoon. The night was fine until an hour before daylight, when a NW storm of rain burst over us, again deluging the country.
Thursday, 23 January 1862 [Camp 11U].
The state of the ground prevented us starting until half-past two, but we found the ground better than we expected after the first 2 miles, the country was more undulating, and the further E we went the less were the symptoms of rain having fallen; at last I began to fear we would have no water for our camp. This would have been the more awkward, for the heavy rains had caused us not to fill any of our water-bags. Luckily, at the end of 12 miles we found sufficient in a small swamp for our purpose, and we camped. At the end of the first 6½ miles, we fell in with five blacks, but there were tracks of many more. From them we got the old story about the four white men having gone down the Flinders, but, as usual, no information as to whether they had gone from there. At this camp, at half-past one p.m., another tropical storm visited us, lasting until near daylight. It came first from the SSW, went round by the NE, and returned to us with a second edition from the SSE.
Friday, 24 January 1862 [Camp 12U, Norman River].
This morning heavy rain caused us to delay starting until 1 p.m. In the interval we were visited by nine blacks, out of whom no intelligence could be got. Two of them received a shirt each, but subsequently one of them was detected stealing an American tomahawk. We have given so many away, and so many have been lost, that tomahawks are now with us precious articles. Rodney, whose tomahawk it was, called to the fellow to drop it, and snapped his gun in the air. They all now made off; but Paddy, willing to hasten their movements, fired his breech-loader over their heads. This I was very angry at, as it was done without my orders; nevertheless, it had the good effect of showing them what they, I surmise, were utterly ignorant of the immense range or Terry's carbines. I heard them scream when the conical ball struck a tree some distance ahead of them. We reached the Norman in 11 miles. We did not find the ground at all heavy; in fact, the very heavy [sand?] which caused us so much vexation on our outward route, were in the wet season very acceptable to us, as we had good travelling ground.
Saturday, 25 January 1862 [Camp 13U].
As my horse and another were late coming into camp, I started Mr M'Allister on at half-past eight; for, as we had had a fine clear night, and the morning was splendid, it was necessary to take advantage of it. At nine I started after him; passed the 41 tree in 6 miles, and overtook Mr M'Allister in 5 more, at some pools of water with ducks on them, and, as we were out of meat, we camped in hopes of getting some. We found here that the bag containing the tobacco had opened, losing one half (all one side). Three men must, in consequence, return to-morrow, as this is a loss of too serious a nature for Australian bushmen.