Friday, 1 November 1861 - Camp 31.
Spelled at Camp 31. The grass is very good here, and as we
have now abundance of water we spell here to-day; to-morrow we must make
another try for the main range. Yesterday evening I hit the Stawell below
the junction of this, which my men have called the Woolgar River. The
Stawell now runs south-west, and is evidently a large contributor to the
Barkly. There must, I think, be water somewhere near this, for we saw
three ducks pass in the night, and the cockatoos are numerous. The bed of
the Woolgar River I measured, 111 yards from the foot of one bank to the
Saturday, 2 November 1861.
Sunday, 3 November 1861.
At 3 P.M. thermometer 97°. Spring found down the river,
latitude 20° 16'. Cool night.
Monday, 4 November 1861 - Camp 31.
Still at Camp 31.
Men all day in vain searching for tracks of
lost mare. Saw large pools of permanent water in the Stawell.
Tuesday, 5 November 1861.
Started,an advance party NNW, and did not get away in pursuit
of it till afternoon, and so missed it. It was dusk when we reached a
tributary of the Stawell; Mr Haughton had not, however, stopped here,
and, as we could no more see the tracks, we searched for a spot to dig
for water, as he had all the water-bags with him. The place we tried gave
every symptom, but nothing beyond mud. There was no help for it, so
having tied up the horses we tried to sleep. The night was quite cold.
Distance (out camp), 18 miles.
Wednesday, 6 November 1861.
Reached Camp 32, and stopped remainder of day. Mr Haughton had
got water in another tributary by digging. Some blacks had been
encountered near the camp, who had attacked Paddy and Rodney, who were
looking for water; one was killed by a shot from Paddy. Thermometer 104°
in the shade at 3 P.M., but a cool breeze from south-west. Distance (from
Camp 31), 26 miles.
Thursday, 7 November 1861.
Went NNW by compass, over a tableland of red sandstone, after
having crossed some downs near Patience Creek. I observed that rain had
fallen not long ago, and the grass was green; but it made me feel very
grateful when I found a small creek with abundance of good water, and
fine feed for the horses. Barometer 29.11. Distance, 11 miles.
Friday, 8 November 1861.
Notwithstanding the great heat, we managed to do 16 miles NNW
and 3 W. by N. down a creek, but no water. At first we tried to dig where
we camped, but as the water came too slow, went half a mile further down,
and there found a spring, which, being dug out, made a capital
water-hole. Very good burnt grass here. Is this not a tributary of the
Flinders? Ground very heavy all day. Aneroid 29.25. Distance, 19 miles.
Saturday, 9 November 1861.
So great was the heat and so heavy the ground, that the horses
were much distressed, and it was a great comfort to find some bulrushes,
good springs of water, and grass, at the end of 10 miles. Our course has
been, on an average, 32° N. of W., and we had crossed over to a large
creek still running WNW.
Sunday, 10 November 1861.
Great delay in collecting the horses, and did not start until
10; the consequence was, that the heat and heavy ground, the latter worse
than ever, nearly brought us to a standstill. My course for first 2½
hours was NW by compass. I then turned 32° N. of W., when I reached a
large river, with a fine pool of water 6 feet in depth. Short as the
day's stage was, we were obliged to camp. (No. 36.) Distance, 10½ miles.
Monday, 11 November 1861.
Started early down the river, and reached another fine pool 14
feet deep, before the heat of the day. The ground is also harder. An
anabranch turned me NW by compass, and hit the river again about 9
miles beyond. If the ground opens, instead of being the brushy sandy
country we have encountered hitherto on these waters, I intend taking
advantage of the moonlight nights. Distance, 24 miles.
Tuesday, 12 November 1861.
Ground dreadfully heavy all day. This day, I find from Mr
Haughton's report, as well as my own experience, has knocked our horses
out of time altogether, so I must spell here a couple of days. Distance,
Wednesday, 13 November 1861.
The thermometer at 109° at 5 pm in the shade;
aneroid as high as 29.51.
Thursday, 14 November 1861.
Upon looking at the horses, no one would suppose they
were so completely done up, for none are in bad condition; but the
dreadfully heavy ground, with the heat, brings them to a stand-still at
the end of 8 miles. This is a melancholy, good-for-nothing country.
Aneroid, 29.50. What does this mean; for the sky is very clear, and there
is a cool breeze? The nights are still delightfully cool. There are
flocks of bronze-winged pigeons at this hole. Thermometer at 3 pm, 103°
in shade; at sundown, 91°; Friday morning at daybreak, 61°.
Friday, 15 November 1861.
We started at 5.30 P.M., and had a pleasant ride at first over
hard ground W. by S. 10°, and then WNW; this brought me to a pool of
water, and I camped, for although we have a splendid moon the brush is
too thick to travel by night. Distance, 7 miles.
Saturday, 16 November 1861.
To-day reached what I supposed to be the real river, the last
two camps having been, as I suspected, on an anabranch. The river turned
us 32° N. of W. by compass; then a course of WSW brought us to a pool
where it was deemed prudent to camp. Aneroid, 29.64; thermometer at 2
pm, 105° in shade. Distance, 8 miles.
Sunday, 17 November 1861.
To-day has been more encouraging; we got an early start, and
passed W. by N. over ground which was rapidly improving and getting more
sound. I now turned W by S, and was delighted to see some box-trees.
The ground now is quite hard along what I take to be an anabranch; this
turned us WNW first, and then 6° S. of W., till the watercourse was no
longer visible; still keeping the same course we crossed over to another
branch. This is still too small for the main river, but my men are
inclined to think it is so notwithstanding. If so, this is not the
Flinders, but merely a tributary; it now turned WNW and then NNW,
which brought us to a small pool of temporary water, at which we camped.
As we had a gentle breeze blowing from the gulf, the day was not
unpleasantly hot. At this camp (41) is a remarkable oval ring, planted
all round with tall thin saplings placed about a foot apart; none of my
men understand the meaning of it. Distance, 20 miles.
Monday, 18 November 1861.
Managed to make camp before the heat of the day, when we found
a pool of water, and as Jingle could find none within two or three miles
lower, we camped. The morning was made pleasant by the cool breeze from
north-west. The river to-day has averaged a course of 48° W. of N. by
compass; it has a better defined channel, and we passed one lagoon only
just dried up; after all it is a mere apology for a river. The ground
still continues hard, and is nearly all closed with spinifex; Jingle saw
large plains when looking for water lower clown; thermometer at 3 P.M.,
104°; aneroid, 29.82. The pigeons, both at the last camp and at this,
have been in large flocks; I was unwilling to expend powder, of which I
have only three canisters left, but as I thought a change of diet
beneficial, I allowed the men to shoot at this camp, and the result was
we had twenty-seven pigeons. Distance, 12 miles.
Tuesday, 19 November 1861.
Fell in to-day with some gins, who could give no information of
white men, but gave us the pleasing intelligence that henceforth there
was plenty of water. The country to-day is much more open, but there were
no plains. Aneroid, 29:83; thermometer at 3 pm, 103° in shade. The
river is more respectable; it was joined by a creek from south-east 4
miles below Camp 42, where is an excellent pool with fish, and good burnt
feed. Distance, 19½ miles.
Wednesday, 20 November 1861.
For the first 6 miles travelled 30° W, of N. by compass; then
NNW for 2 miles, when we crossed the river, having to-day been on the
right bank. It now for 1 mile kept the same course, NNW, and a plain
extended along the south bank; but now it turned north by east for 3
miles, and then NNE for 1 mile, when we came to a deep permanent
water-hole, and five blacks with gins and children at it. A friendly
intercourse was established, and I gave 'them some tomahawks. They were
subsequently joined by ten or twelve more men. We camped here: the blacks
on one side of the water, we on the other. As this north-east turn of the
river was perplexing, an endeavour was made to ascertain which way it now
went. The blacks made us understand clearly enough that this river now
ran NW by N. by compass; we understood, but not so clearly, that it
joined another running more to the westward. They told us to follow this
watercourse, and we should at short intervals find plenty of holes like
this one. Large plains lay to the north-west, and, strange to say, they
used for this the word "coonical," the same as Weerageree and Coreen
Jemmy's language. They said we must avoid going west, as the country was
no good, like what we had seen if we came down this river. They had heard
of no white fellows being to the NW or WNW. I now suspect that what
Mr Gregory called the eastern end of the Gilbert, is the real Flinders;
and this I believe to be the tributary. The country is now good, but a
large proportion is subject to inundation. It is a great relief to have
done with the heavy sandy country--with spinifex and brush of melaleuca,
and other rubbish. Aneroid, 29.85; thermometer, at 2.30, 108° in the
shade. The north-west breeze was cool this morning, but after 12 it now
and then brought a hot blast from off the plains, which are visible from
the back of this camp (No. 44). Distance, 13 miles.
Thursday, 21 November 1861.
I went the course directed by the blacks, NW by N, but as
this brought me, after passing the flooded plains, to heavy sand, I
turned off north, and found a chain of good water-holes in the river,
with good grass, and there camped. My men got a few fish here, about half
a pound weight each. Thermometer in shade, 108° at 3 P.M.; aneroid,
29.84. Distance, 9½ miles.
Friday, 22 November 1861.
To-day I followed the course of the river, merely cutting off
the bends. Great doubts are entertained as to what river this is, for if
it is the Flinders, I am 20 miles out in my longitude, and the way the
blacks point, it ought to take me by my map to the camp of 11th of
September of Gregory; but how this can be is a puzzle, considering the
width of the inundations and the abundance of permanent water. How does
this correspond with Gregory's dry irregular channels? Camped at one of
the finest sheets of water I have seen for many a day. Our latitude, both
by observation and dead reckoning, is 18° 18', and this corresponds with
Gregory's 11th September camp, and so does my longitude. Distance, 17
Saturday, 23 November 1861.
We went the first hour north-west, and then north of west
brought us round the end of a magnificent reach of water to some small
pools to camp. In the afternoon I rode out to reconnoitre. I saw the
river was now going a little east of north, and was again in long
reaches. I struck out to the west, and came on some box-flats, and on my
return to camp passed a lagoon, which I had no doubt was that which
Gregory passed on his way from 10th September camp to that of 11th
September. My map is right after all, and this I suppose is the river
marked on the maps as Bynoe. Distance uncertain.
Sunday, 24 November 1861.
I went out a little to the N of W by N, and camped on the
creek on which Gregory camped 10th September. Distance, 5 miles.
Monday, 25 November 1861.
This eventful day, on a course W by S 5°, by compass, brought
us to the Flinders River. We found it a beautiful large river, with high
banks, and a delicious cool breeze blowing up it. We got a good many
ducks, which were very acceptable, for our meat was finished yesterday.
At this camp, latitude 18° 7', were found the well-defined trail of
either three or four camels, and one horse: they had come down the
Flinders. This night we had a tremendous thunder-storm; the first heavy
rain we have had since starting from Bauhinian Downs. Distance, 16 miles.
Tuesday, 26 November 1861.
I had to go up the river 8 miles before I could get a
crossing-place, and last night's rain had made the ground so heavy that
the horses were much distressed. I therefore camped as soon as we had
crossed. This morning Jemmy Cargara, in collecting the horses, found
Burke's trail returning across the plain, and going S.S.E. Grateful
Creek, at Camp 33, and the three large creeks crossed upon leaving it,
are evidently the heads of the Flinders, but the southerly trend which
the main one took caused me to cross it. The tableland is therefore the
dividing range. Distance, 8½ miles.
Wednesday, 27 November 1861.
We went west by compass, crossing Gregory's 8th September creek
half-way. We have had plains all day, but I can see low sandstone ranges
not far on our left. Night oppressive. Aneroid fell to 29.96 from 29.84.
Distance, 18 miles.
Thursday, 28 November 1861.
Started W. by N. At first we passed over plains so full of
holes as to be distressing to the horses, who were constantly stumbling.
We now crossed a creek with deep holes, but now dry. Higher up, where I
saw many calares and a clump of trees, I think there is water. We now
began to rise, and crossed over a spur of red sandstone ranges. Crossed
two dry channels, then a ridge of good downs, and finally reached one
head of Morning Inlet, and camped on some lagoons. This is very good
pastoral country, but I fear too hot for sheep. There is much thunder
hanging about, and some storms appear to have again fallen on the
Flinders, but none have reached us. A cool NNW breeze rendered the
afternoon very pleasant, but the forenoon was very oppressive. The
immense plains which stretch away to the north and north-west, I suppose
are the same mentioned by Captain Stokes. Sent a rocket up at night.
Distance, 15 miles.
Friday, 29 November 1861.
Expected a storm, but it passed over. Reached the main head of
Morning Inlet, on a course west by north. After rising from the creek at
last camp, we rode over red sandstone all day until we descended to
box-flats, near the main creek: the first part box-trees, broad-leaved
and good grass; and the latter portion melaleuca, nearly no grass, and
with innumerable cones, some 6 feet high, made by the ants. On the banks
of Morning Inlet was again, where the sandstone abutted on the creek, the
hateful spinifex grass. The plains are visible north of this camp (53).
Cool breeze from north-west. Night very oppressive and sultry. Mosquitoes
triumphant. Distance, 9 miles.
Saturday, 30 November 1861.
After having crossed, not far from camp, three creeks, or
branches of a creek, we cleared the sandstone, and rode across a fine
plain, with a small creek in the centre, and found on the west side a
large creek, with two anabranches, and a fine lagoon. We now crossed a
sandstone ridge, with good grass and box-trees, and reached a plain, on
leaving which we had to pass over downs and stony plains, of an excellent
description for pastoral purposes, to a hole in a good downs creek. I was
very glad to water the horses. Another mile brought me to where Mr
Macalister had judiciously decided on camping on a creek evidently
flowing into the Leichhardt, which cannot be much more than 2 miles ahead
of us; indeed, I think I can see the trees of it. Distance, 17 miles.