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September 1861

The Age [Melbourne]
Thursday 10 April 1862: 7. 'The Exploration Despatches'

Frederick Walker took a party of his native troopers with him from Rockhampton to Charles B. Dutton's Bauhinia Downs, on the Dawson River, where the expedition was finally organised on 7 September 1861.

The Nogoa River was reached on the 16th, after which he pushed on through Walker's Pass to the River Nivelle. By the 27th he made the Barcoo, which was followed down for three days, during which traces of both Leichhardt and Gregory were found.

I have kept no regular journal until the day upon which I left the Victoria River, and as the ground previously was nearly all well known to we, the following will serve as a sort of preface.

I received Capt Mayne's letter on the 6th August [1861]. I returned that day forty miles to Bauhinia Downs; stopped there the next day to arrange matters with my friend Mr Chas B. Dutton; sent Patrick to collect my men and gave directions to Jack Horsfeldt to cure the meat for the expedition.

I then started for Rockhampton, but when I reached the Dawson I could not get the horses within twenty yards of the bank. Patrick cut a canoe and I crossed; finding Mr Govan at Rio, I exchanged horses with him. I rode his to Rockhampton and he mine to his station. I hastened to get everything in readiness, but found that only twelve horses had been purchased. With the assistance of my friends Mr Hutchinson and Captain Hunter I made up my lot in a few days and started the whole party out on Saturday, the 25th August.

Stopped till the next day partly to get the English mail and partly to hear what had become of the Victoria steamer. Captain Cottier, of the Clarance, told me that vessel, together with a brig, were to have started the day previous (Saturday) direct for the Albert River, without touching anywhere, so I was disappointed in my hopes of seeing Captain Norman before I started.

Some delay took place owing to the heaviness of the ground on my way up to Mr Dutton's. We however managed to cross the Dawson safely; stopped two days at Mr Living's, taking in flour and sugar and arranging the packs, and two more days at Mr Dutton's, packing the meat and preparing everything in proper order for the final start, which, to my great joy, took place on the 7th Sept.

The horses are not in as good order as I would wish - some are all right, but others look very seedy, and several have been griped. I must get them in proper trim before I can go ahead full speed. So for the present short stages and good camps are the order of the day. And it is lucky I know the ground so well. When I reached Albenier Downs, the station of Messrs Hope, Dennistoun, and Rollestone, a mare was so ill I was obliged to leave her.

I saw that if I wished to make anything of a journey I must have more strength in horses, especially as the pack saddles hurt the horses ribs, and I had no spare ones to relieve them. I accordingly bought three from my friend Mr Fatten, and four more from Messrs Davis and Allen. We now pushed on, but still only by moderate stages, as the horses were still much purged by the new grass. We reached Mr Macintosh's station on a creek flowing into the Nogoa.

Saturday 14 September 1861.
On the 14th spelled,

Sunday 15 September 1861.
... and the 15th [spelled]

Monday 16 September 1861.
left the station, for good or otherwise on the 16th;

Thursday 19 September 1861.
... upon reaching the Nogoa, which I crossed on the 19th, I went to the north to hit Poma, which tributary of the Claude takes its rise at my pass over the main range; this is a great detour, but by this means I avoided the dense brigalow scrub which intervenes between the Nogoa River and the Salvator Lake and the pass.

Friday 20 September 1861.
On the 20th we reached the beautiful Emerald Downs, on Poma Creek,

Saturday 21 September 1861.
camped there the 21st,

Monday 23 September 1861. [Camp 3]
and arrived at the foot of the pass and my old camp on the 23rd; the grass had caught fire from my camp and was now a fine sward; the horses were within a square mile in the morning, and as we got a good start did the twenty miles to my No. 30 tree on the Nivelle, in good time; nevertheless, one horse, evidently sick, gave in on the way and had to be left.

Wednesday 25 September 1861. [Camp 4]
We camped here the 25th; sent back for the sick horse, and I marked a tree FW 4 under. My first marked tree is on Emerald Downs, as that was new ground to me.

FW
4

Thursday 26 September 1861. [Camp 5]
The 26th we pushed down to the Nive, and marked a tree No. 5. This is about five miles above my old No. ll camp.

FW
5

Friday 27 September 1861. [Camp 6]
The next day, 27th, crossed over to tbe Victoria, and camped No. 6, below my No. 29 tree.

On the 28th, 29th, and 30th pushed down the Victoria by fair stages, the horses now rapidly improving.

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