|Monday, 7 October 1861. |
There was much difficulty in catching the horses this
morning, owing to their having improved so much during the last few days'
spell. Passed by Leichhardt's second L tree; thence over a succession of
downs and plains, intersected by narrow and open scrub of the acacia the
blacks call 'gurrt.' Rain at night. Distance, 17 miles.
Tuesday, 8 October 1861.
Course still NNW. Crossed a sandy creek with large bed, but no
water; it was here running through sand-hills, but lower down I could see
it opened on the downs and plains we had been traversing all morning. One
mile beyond this we killed an emeu. Passed another creek, with a pool of
water, luckily for the horses. We now ascended a high downs ridge,
surmounted by a belt of scrub. Still NNW. We had reached the division
of waters betwixt the Alice and Victoria. The first creek crossed to-day
was no doubt that crossed by Sir Thomas Mitchell, arid which he marks on
his map as a deep rocky channel. Last 5½ miles was through sandy box
country, clothed with a grass like knitting-needles. Camped without water
at dusk. Distance, 20½ miles.
Wednesday, 9 October 1861.
Shortly after starting we found a pool of muddy or rather
milky-looking water; the horses indulged in a good drink, and we filled
two of our excellent water-bags--last night we found the benefit of them.
I now turned to my course again NNW., which we followed till I
discerned symptoms of a watercourse trending N by E 10°. A very short
distance showed I was right, and I followed it through a scrub to where
it joined a larger creek, which flowed WNW. This creek I followed to
camp (No. 13), at a place sufficiently open and well grassed for my
purpose. This creek had, after we came on it, received two tributaries
from the north-east, and had now abundance of water, possibly, but not
certainly, permanent. Except the last 6 miles, the ground was the same
sandy box country, with the same grass, as yesterday evening. Distance,
Thursday, 10 October 1861.
To-day travelled over a tableland of sandy ground, with the
same needle-like grass as yesterday. Then descended into a broad sandy
creek, with reeds, and which bad not long ceased running; I called this
the Patrick, after one of my old comrades (aboriginal). The Patrick now
ran NNW30°, and then NNW25°; I therefore followed it till it
turned NW45°; but I still followed it, for the heavy sandy ground and
an oppressively hot day I saw was distressing to the horses; at the end
of another 2 miles it turned NNW. 25°, when a half-mile's ride brought
us to a long reach of water, at which I camped, as the day's work was too
much broken into. Camp No. 14 is about 9 miles from the Alice. When I
left the Victoria, I laid down in pencil, on Mitchell's map, what I
supposed to be the probable course of the Alice, also a tributary which
exactly answers to the creek we were on last night, and which I have now
called the Macalister. The Patrick I fell in with 3 miles sooner than I
anticipated, but its northerly course makes up for that. I hope to fall
in on the other side of the Alice with a tributary coming from the
NNW, possibly from the north. The advance party to-day saw very old
tracks of horses, and apparently mules, going down the Patrick. I much
regret not having seen them, as they must have been Leichhardt's.
Distance, 11 miles.
Friday, 11 October 1861.
Started Mr Macalister, with instructions to travel NNW by
compass. I pulled him up at a beautiful camp, on a small creek, with
excellent grass. The country, after the first 4 miles, was all plains and
downs, intersected by small belts of the gurrt (acacia) scrub. The last 5
miles were over very fine downs, clothed with that excellent grass I call
rye (because it always grows near barley-grass). From these downs I saw
the range, about 25 miles to the east. Distance, 9 miles (presumed).
Saturday, 12 October 1861.
To-day we rode NNW by compass, over fine very high downs;
crossed two small creeks flowing from them N. by W., and camped at the
head of a third. The range now lay about 20 miles east, and betwixt us
and it there was a fine downy valley, evidently well watered. Day cool
and pleasant, and horses doing well on the excellent feed. Latitude by
observation of Camp 16, 23° 17' S. Night cool; thermometer at daylight,
50°. Distance, 15 miles.
Sunday, 13 October 1861.
Our course NNW by compass, took us down the creek we had
camped on, until it joined another water in several places. We crossed
this creek, and at the end of 7½ miles from our camp we crossed a creek
full of water, with an anabranch flowing to the south-west. This I take
to be the Alice. Hitherto we have been on fine downs all day; within half
a mile farther we crossed a tributary coming from the north, and then
another tributary. By keeping our course NNW we again crossed the
first creek, and camped on a fine reach of water. In the first tributary
we saw the finest reach of water I have seen this side of the range, and
at it was more than one black's camp. About 1 mile lower down than where
we crossed the Alice, was a range on the right bank, which I named Mount
Rodney, after one of my Murray men. As all three creeks meet there, I
expect there must be a large quantity of water at the foot of it. The two
tributaries both flow through acacia (gurrt) scrub for the last 5 miles;
but where we have camped the country is more open, with promise of
improvement. It will be observed that we have seen very little permanent
water; but by following down the watercourses into the valley which lay
to our right the last two days, I would expect to find abundance.
Distance (direct) 11 miles.
Monday, 14 October 1861.
The country at first was more thickly covered with acacia than
suited me; and as we now had hit the creek again, I crossed it, and
travelled parallel to it for a short distance 60° W of N by compass.
The country now opened, and I resumed my NNW compass course, which in
about an hour and a quarter brought us to the summit of the downs ridge
which separates the watershed of the Alice from that of the Thomson. Some
low ranges were seen to the east, about 5 or 6 miles off, and a small one
on the downs to the west, about 3 miles, is probably where the two creeks
we have left take their rise. We now made 10 miles more over the downs,
and as we descended stony plains came to a beautiful river, running W by
N. This, which is no doubt a tributary of the Thomson, I have called the
Coreenda. Mr Gregory, when he left the Thomson, says that river is
formed by the small watercourses emanating from the sandstone ridges; had
I thought that, I would not have ventured where I am now. This is
splendid sheep country. I have no doubt that many of the holes in the
Coreenda are permanent; but it is not possible to tell which, as that
river has not long since ceased running. It floods occasionally about a
quarter of a mile on each side, except where the downs approach the bank.
The gum-trees look as if drought were a complete stranger to them, so
fresh and healthy-looking are they. Distance, 14 miles.
Tuesday, 15 October 1861 - At Camp 18.
This day was one of disappointment, for the boy
Jemmy Cargara returned in the afternoon without three of the horses,
which he had been seeking since daylight. This is the first time he has
failed. I now sent out three men on horseback, and they returned with the
horses at three. Shortly after I had unsaddled the remainder, Coreen
Jemmy and Patrick reported having seen the tracks of a considerable
number of horses. I sent a party to examine them; they returned and
reported there was no doubt of the tracks; that they were very old, and
had been there near a fine lagoon, about 2 miles above my camp, and in
wet weather. Aneroid, 29.5.
Wednesday, 16 October 1861.
The early part of to-day's journey was over plains covered with
gurrt, at times rather too close; thence past a watercourse and two
lagoons, to sandstone ridges, with needle-grass--very uncomfortable
travelling. Four miles from the lagoons we crossed the well-marked tracks
of a very large party going a little N. of W. These tracks were very old,
and had been made in wet weather. They will be visible probably for years
to come, whereas mine, made in dry weather, will be obliterated the first
rainy season. We then came on to the opposite declivity of the sandstone
ridges, and from thence saw a high peak which I have called Mount
Macalister, being 5° N. of W. by compass; and another bluff mount, which
I have called Mount Horsefeldt. I now perceived why Leichhardt's tracks
had been going west. He probably camped on the Coreenda, above where my
men saw the horse-tracks; thence travelled parallel to my course, and,
being higher up the ridges, saw the peak sooner than I did, and turned
off towards it. I now saw I was getting too intimate with the dividing
range, and altered my course to north-west by compass. One mile brought
me to a small watercourse, with many small pools of temporary water,
arid, as there was a sufficiency of good grass, I camped. How is it that
the blacks here have iron tomahawks? One has evidently a broad axe. The
blacks on the Nive, who are much nearer the settlements, have only stone
tomahawks, some very fine ones. Distance, 25 miles.
Thursday, 17 October 1861.
Started early on a north-west course, when, having crossed a
high ridge, we came on a river running to the S. of W. This I believe to
be the principal head of the Thomson. Here were seen the old tracks of
horses (Leichhardt's camp was probably lower down on this river). We
proceeded on the same course, passing betwixt two basalt ridges. I now
for a short distance diverged to WNW, to get on a plain, when I
resumed the north-west course, over two basalt ridges. The basalt was
injuring our horses' feet, and I turned again WNW to get on the
plains. We next crossed a creek followed by a ridge. I was now able to
resume the north-west course, and we hit a nice lagoon, and another head
of the Thomson running south-west betwixt these two, and going NNW
were again the well-defined tracks of Leichhardt's party (he must have
had a considerable quantity of wet weather). He had, no doubt, from
Macalister's Peak perceived he was on the verge of the desert, and turned
again to his old NNW course. I now turned 25° N of W to go to a peak
rising off the downs. From this peak I saw displayed before me an awful
waste of endless plains. My man Patrick, who ascended the peak with me,
and who is accustomed to the immense plains of the Edward and
Murrumbidgee, was struck with consternation, and he remarked to me,
"There is no father side this country." Upon leaving this solitary peak,
which I have called the Sentinel, I had to turn 10° W of N by compass.
We passed betwixt two terminations of spurs, over one ridge, to a
gum-creek, running by N. We searched in vain for water, and had to push
on over the next ridge, reaching another creek with sufficient water for
a day or two. Distance, 25½ miles.
Friday, 18 October 1861 - Camp 20.
Spelled at Camp 20.
I took a ride for 3 miles down the creek,
which runs WNW through the plains. I found another long pool of water,
but fast drying up. We went to the top of the next ridge to get a good
view of the range. Found I must still keep 10° W of N by compass. I
observed a high mountain in that direction, with a remarkable gap in it.
I expect to cross Leichhardt's track again to-morrow: of course whether
we see it will depend upon whether he was still travelling in a rain
season or not. The ground dries up here very quick. The thermometer, from
12 to 2 P.M. was 96° in the shade; the aneroid is 29.4. By observations
taken from two different stars this morning, our latitude is 21° 50', 20
miles more north than my dead reckoning, which previously never differed
from the observations more than 3 miles. We have travelled over some very
good downs since leaving the sandstone. Near the ranges the grass is
sufficiently thick, but as they slope down to the plain it gets thinner
Saturday, 19 October 1861.
Good travelling all day. We crossed some fine downs. At the end
of the first 4 miles we crossed a creek running WSW, and shortly
afterwards another running south-west; then came to a third which ran
SSW; 3 miles beyond, pulled up the last of the waters of the Thomson
watershed. This one was running south. We were now rising fast, and we
travelled 2 miles upon a plateau of downs. Seeing the gap I have spoken
of a little on my right, I altered my course from 10° W of N by compass
to north, and on the same plateau reached it. I now turned down the
opposite fall 10° W of N by compass, and struck a large creek running
in three and sometimes more channels. This creek runs WNW, and is
evidently the beginning of a large river. Some very high mountains are
now close to us to the north. The aneroid is now 29.2, or 23.19. The gap
we have crossed could have been very little under the height of the main
range: where we crossed it, the aneroid stood at 28.9. Distance, 21½
Sunday, 20 October 1861.
Thermometer at daylight, 66°. I steered NNW by compass, over
fine very high basaltic downs, but thinly grassed in some places; we
passed a tributary of the creek or river we camped on last night, and
camped on a much larger head of the same river, which I have called the
Haughton. We unfortunately disturbed three blacks, and thus failed in
having an interview. They left very much worn iron tomahawks in this
camp, and I have added three new ones to it. The hole here, though of
great size and depth, is nearly dry. There do not appear to have been any
of the heavy rains here which fell on the Victoria, as well as on the
coast, in July and August. There is no appearance of spring; the carrots,
instead of being green, like what they were on the Alice waters, have for
the last few days been quite brown and brittle. A very high mountain,
ENE from the camp (No. 22), I have named Mount Gilbee, after Dr
Gilbee, who moved the resolution that I should lead this party.
Monday, 21 October 1861.
Started 30° W of N, till we crossed a tributary of the
Haughton; thence to the top of a scrubby spur of the range, on which
Patrick shot a turkey. I had now to turn north by compass to get out on
to a plain, then N. by W. by compass, and crossed another tributary of
the Haughton. Here three of the men in vain looked for water, and we had
to push on over a ridge for 2½ miles. I ran down a creek WNW for 4
miles, and then W by N for 4 miles more, being enticed on from point to
point by the appearance of the gum-trees, and the hope of finding water
to bring my mare on to it. I saw it was of no use, and turned to the top
of a gap in a mountain I have called Pollux; another to the east I called
Castor. I had now a fine view of the country to the north, and with my
glass saw gum-trees across a plain about 5 miles off. We went down the
slope of the downs, and reached some splendid reaches of water, evidently
the back-water of a large river. We had, however, to leave four more
horses on the downs, and it was dark before we got our saddles off. The
horses, parched with thirst, having bad no water during a fearfully hot
day, rushed into the water, packs and all; luckily no damage was done.
Distance, 24½ miles.
Tuesday, 22 October 1861.
A day's spell, as a matter of course, at Camp 23, Jingle, in
collecting the horses to-day, saw the river, which he says is as big as
the Dawson: we shall cross it to-morrow, and likewise another, which I
think comes round a peak I saw from Mount Pollux, bearing by compass 12°
E of N. The downs here are well grassed, and if the climate is not too
hot, this is as good sheep country as any in Australia. I have no doubt
that permanent water is to be found near this, but that at our camp would
not stand more than seven or eight months.
Wednesday, 23 October 1861.
Went NNW by compass, crossing the river, which is a sandy
dry channel, 90 yards wide: this is an immense width, considering bow
high we are, the aneroid standing at 29.15. In about an hour, on the same
course, we crossed a large tributary, two-thirds of the width of the main
river, which I have named the Barkly, after the Governor of Victoria. A
short distance from this brought us to the tip of a basalt ridge; and as
a range was now in our way, I turned 32° W of N to the top of another
ridge, having crossed a small channel. I now turned 55° W of N, and
then due west to a small creek with two temporary water-holes and good
grass. As I must cross the range, which I take to be a spur of the main
range, I camped, not wishing to attempt more to-day. I hoped to cross
Leichhardt's track, but we have seen no signs of it. As the Barkly is
running north-west, I think it probable he followed it as long as it kept
that course. I suppose this river, which I expect receives large
tributaries from the north, is a principal feeder of Stuart's great lake,
and that Eyre's Creek flows into it; if so, Burke must have struck it.
The thermometer this morning at daylight was 64°; this evening at sundown
86°. The aneroid 29.15. Night squally, and aneroid rose to 29.25.
Distance, 11½ miles.
Thursday, 24 October 1861.
When I got to the top of the range this morning, I found I was
on an extensive basaltic tableland. The aneroid stood at 28.9. The range,
with a peak which I saw from Mount Pollux, stood in the midst of this
tableland. Two Very high mountains were seen about 18 miles off; one 10°
E of N, and the other 20° E of N. The basalt was distressing to the
horses, and we could not average 2 miles an hour. We were pulled up by a
deep ravine with a large creek at the bottom, and lined with cliffs of
basalt columns; and it was with some difficulty we found a slope of
debris not too steep for our descent; and then great care had to be
taken. On reaching the foot of the cliffs we ran down the creek W by N
to a fine pool, where we camped, having been five hours doing (Distance)
Friday, 25 October 1861.
Made a fair start at 7.45 am. I followed down Jingle Creek, as
I wished to clear the basaltic ranges if possible: 11½ miles in a general
westerly direction, now brought us to the Barkly River, leaving which we
ascended to a bit of downs. I now saw that a spur of the same basaltic
ranges must make the Barkly run WSW; and, as there was no help for it,
I steered in that direction, crossing the river and camping at a fine
pool of water, with good grass and open country - the 'beau ideal' of a
camp. The large tributary which I have called the Macadam, must have
joined the Barkly at the back of a spur I see from here, bearing 30° S
of E. I had a view of both of them from the tableland, and then a plain
separated them. We have had lots of pigeons at this camp; a lagoon about
half a mile from here is reported to be permanent; I shall probably see
it to-morrow. The day has been very hot, and yet not oppressively so,
owing to a breeze which, although blowing from the WSW, was, strange
to say, cool. We have generally had cool breezes from the east hitherto,
at night especially. After sundown the thermometer was 100°; aneroid,
29.2. Distance, 14½ miles.
Saturday, 26 October 1861.
I overtook the advance party, and found them in vain
endeavouring to get a parley with some gins who were crouching in the
long grass on the bank of the river. I gave them some tomahawks, which
gave them more confidence. One old lady who spoke a language of which
Jemmy Cargara understood a little, stated that she had seen men like me
many years ago down the river; pointing WSW., she said another river
joined it from the south-east; this must be the Haughton. She also, in
pointing WSW, repeated the words "Caree Garee" several times. I now
turned north-west by compass, but the basalt again made us turn S. by W.
10°, to a fine reach of water and fine feed for the horses. I determined
to spell here a day before attempting the basalt, which, 'coute qui
coute', I must surmount if I wish to get to the north. Jingle having seen
a little black boy near this, Mr Haughton went to the camp with three of
my men, and where he fell in with three black men: they had with them one
of the gins to whom I had given the tomahawks; this insured a friendly
reception and them returned to my camp with Mr Naughton. They gave us to
understand by signs, and by as much of their language as Jemmy Cargara
could comprehend, that this river flowed WSW by compass into
Careegaree; that it was joined by another large river from the
north-east. If we went north-west by compass, after crossing that river,
we would go over a range and then come to a river which ran north-west
into Careegaree, by which we conclude they mean the Gulf of Carpentaria;
the other must be Stuart's great lake. These blacks have superior spears,
thrown by a womera. One of grass-tree jointed was of immense length;
another, not quite so long, had three prongs, one of which was barbed
with a bit of bone fastened on with gum. Thermometer 86° at sundown; at
12 to-day it was 88°, and 100° at 2 and 3 P.M. Aneroid 29.21. Distance,
Sunday, 27 October 1861.
Spelled (it being Sunday) at Camp 27. The thermometer at 1 am.
was at 68°; the aneroid rose to 29.25, and subsequently to 29.32, but
after 12 it went down to 29.19. Yesterday evening Mr Haughton and I
ascended the range, at foot of which is this camp. We found that it was
still the same tableland of basalt we have been skirting: however, by
rounding this point, we get, north-west, a short piece of good ground,
and then must encounter the basalt again. Day very hot. Thermometer in
shade 102° at 2 P.M.; 98° at 3; at sundown, 89°. The water at this camp
no doubt stands a long time, but as at present it is only 5 feet deep, it
cannot be deemed permanent, notwithstanding its great length. Jingle
yesterday saw some large lagoons of permanent, or, as he terms it, old
water, on the south side of the river; and as there is a chain of such
lagoons all along on that side under the downs, no doubt many are
permanent: on this or the north side there are water-holes similar to
that at this camp whenever the spurs of the basalt tableland approach the
river. Jemmy Cargara, in looking for the horses this morning fell in with
the blacks again, and among them was now an old man who spoke some words
of his language. He said he doubted whether we should find water for the
horses in the first river we had to cross. There is therefore more than
one yet running into the Barkly across our course. He told Jemmy, that
after crossing a river we should cross a range which came from Jemmy's
country, meaning, of course, the main range. Lat. 20° 46'. 1½ diff. from
Monday, 28 October 1861.
Made an excellent 7 o'clock start. After rounding the spur at
No. 27, we had 1½ hour's fair riding, north-west, until we reached the
top of the basalt; then over this spur, the descent and a ravine in it
being so broken as to cause me to fear some accident to the horses;
luckily none took place, and 2½ hours' fast riding north-west, over good
undulating downs, brought us to the first river, which I have called the
Dutton, after my friend Mr Charles B. Dutton. The old black's doubts as
to the water proved correct, and as Rodney, by digging, found some within
a few inches of the surface, I determined to camp and make a pool for the
horses. To supply forty-eight horses was no light undertaking, but all
hands worked with a will, and before sundown the horses were all
satisfied, and had plenty to return to during the night. The small black
ants here are such a nuisance that no one can sleep. Distance, 16 miles.
Tuesday, 29 October 1861.
Pulled up very early at two nice pools of temporary water, with
good grass, as I do not deem it prudent to pass water after the warning
we have received. Distance 5 miles.
Wednesday, 30 October 1861.
Went 30° W. of N. to a gap on a downs ridge; from thence saw a
range ahead of us, and reached the summit in 7 miles, same course, having
crossed two large creeks. We now travelled over this range, which was of
red sandstone (of course clothed with spinifex grass), north-west, and
this brought us to a fine channel of a river, where we disturbed a black
digging for water. We ran this river, which I have called the Stawell, a
short distance W. by N. by compass, where Rodney found a beautiful spring
water-hole, where we camped. The feed for the horses is also excellent.*
Thunder at night, and a few drops of rain. Distance, 14 miles.
[* We had hardly unsaddled our horses, when the voices of blacks were
heard. Jingle, Paddy, and Jemmy Cargara went down the river towards them,
when, to their surprise, they were addressed in Yarrinaakoo, the language
spoken by the blacks on the Comet, and told in angry terms to be off and
not to come there. My men resented this treatment, but fearing my
disapproval should they fire on them, as they wished to do, they came
back and reported to me that these blacks were 'coola.' We now heard them
shouting in all directions, very evidently collecting the others who were
hunting. In the meanwhile we had our dinner. Shortly after they had
collected what they deemed sufficient for their purpose, and we heard one
party coming up the river, and another answering their calls from over
the ridge near our camp. It was time now for us to be doing, so I
directed Mr Macalister, Mr Haughton, Jingle, Paddy, and Coreen Jemmy to
take steady horses and face the river mob, whilst Jack and Rodney, and
Jemmy Cargara stopped with me to protect the camp and meet the hill
party. The mounted party met about thirty men, painted and loaded with
arms, and they charged them at once. Now was shown the benefit of
Terry's breech-loaders, for such a continued steady fire was kept up by this
small party that the enemy never was able to throw one of their
formidable spears. Twelve men were killed, and few if any escaped
unwounded. The hill mob probably got alarmed at the sound of the heavy
firing, and did not consider it convenient to come to the scratch. The
gins and children bad been left camped on the river, and, as there was no
water there, our possession of the spring was no doubt the 'casus belli'.
They might have shared it with us had they chosen to do so. This
unavoidable skirmish ensured us a safe night, otherwise I think there
would have been some casualty in my party before morning, as they can
throw their spears 150 yards.]
Thursday, 31 October 1861.
The question now was, what water were we on, and had we crossed
the main range or not? The river below our camp turned a little S of W.
We went 11½ miles west by compass, over very good downs, with a skirt of
scrub on our right, and the river trees visible a long way on our left. I
now turned. WSW by compass, for the sake of getting water, and came
upon, not the Stawell, but a river coming from the north-east. Thunder at
night, and a little rain. Distance (direct) 16½ miles.