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Field Book No. 5.

Original item held at the State Library of Victoria, SLV MS13071, Box 2083/1a.
Victorian Exploring Expedition Records, Journals and diaries of members of the VEE.
William John Wills, Transcription of Journey from Cooper's Creek to Carpentaria and return to Cooper's Creek. Transcribed and signed by Ferdinand von Mueller, dated 5 November 1861.

Lat. 22 ¼° to 21 ¼°.

Camps 92 to 95. (Standish Ranges.)
12 January to 13 January 1861

Saturday, 12 January 1861.
We started at five A.M., and, keeping as nearly as possible a due north course, traversed for about eight miles a splendid flat, through which flow several fine well-watered creeks, lined with white gum trees. We then entered a series of slatey, low, sandstone ranges, amongst which were some well-grassed flats, and plenty of water in the main gullies. The more stony portions are, however, covered with porcupine grass, and here and there with mallee; large ant-hills are very numerous; they vary in height from two and a half to four feet. There was a continuous rise perceptible all the way in crossing the ranges, and from the highest portion, which we reached at a distance of about seven miles, we had a pretty good view of the country towards the north. As far as we could see in the distance, and bearing due north, was a large range, having somewhat the outline of a granite mountain. The east end of this range just comes up to the magnetic north; on the left of this, and bearing N.N.W., is a single conical peak, the top of which only is visible. Further to the west there were some broken ranges, apparently sandstone; to the E. of N. the tops of very distant and apparently higher ranges were seen, the outline of which was so indistinct that I can form no idea as to their character; the intermediate country below us appeared alternations of fine valleys and stony ranges, such as we had just been crossing. From here a descent of two miles brought us to a creek having a northern course, but on tracing it down for about a mile, we found it to turn to the south-east and join another from the north. We crossed over to the latter on a north-by-west course, and camped on the west bank. It has a broad sandy channel; the waterholes are large, but not deep; the banks are bordered with fine white gums, and are in some places very scrubby. There is abundance of rich green feed everywhere in the vicinity. We found here numerous indications of blacks having been here, but saw nothing of them. It seems remarkable that where their tracks are so plentiful, we should have seen none since we left King's Creek. I observed that the natives here climb trees as those on the Murray do, in search of some animal corresponding in habits to the opossum, which they get out of the hollow branches in a similar manner. I have not yet been able to ascertain what the animal is.

Sunday, 13 January 1861.
We did not leave camp this morning until half-past seven, having delayed for the purpose of getting the camels' shoes on - a matter in which we were eminently unsuccessful. We took our breakfast before starting, for almost the first time since leaving the depot. Having crossed the creek, our course was due north as before, until, at about six miles, we came in sight of the range ahead, when we took a north-half-east direction for the purpose of clearing the eastern front of it. We found the ground more sandy than what we had before crossed, and a great deal of it even more richly grassed. Camp 93 is situate at the junction of three sandy creeks, in which there is abundance of water. The sand is loose, and the water permeates freely, so that the latter may be obtained delightfully cool and clear by sinking anywhere in the beds of the creeks.


Memo; Verbally transcribed from the Field Books of the late Mr Wills. Very few words, casually omitted in the author's manuscripts, have been added in brackets. A few botanical explanations have been appended. A few separate general remarks referring to this portion of the diary will be published, together with the meteorological notes to which they are contiguous. No other notes in reference to this portion of the journey are extant.
5th November 1861,
Ferdinand Mueller.

 
     

Provenance: A note from Burke & Wills Web.
Wills buried this field-book in the wooden camel-box cache at the Dig Tree on 30 May 1861. It was dug up and recovered by Alfred Howitt of the Victorian Contingent Party on 28 September 1861 and returned to Melbourne on 3 November 1861 by William Brahe and Weston Phillips. A transcript was made by Ferdinand von Mueller of the Royal Society of Victoria's Exploration Committee on the evening of 5 November 1861. The original field book was subsequently lost and its whereabouts are unknown. The only remaining record of the field book is Mueller's transript which is reproduced above.

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