Monday, 1st April. Koorliatto
Spelled, as rain fell at intervals throughout
the day. No improvement in the health of the men.
Tuesday, 2nd April. Koorliatto
Though the weather cleared up, I was compelled
to remain in camp. Stone being affected with severe rheumatic
pains. In the morning a native made his appearance, and gave us
the names of the surrounding localities. He wore no covering,
save a tassel of native grass round his loins, and pointed out
Bulloo as lying much more to the west than our course lay. After
taking a minute survey of the camp he left.
Wednesday, 3rd April. Koorliatto
Seeing plainly that any attempt to move Mr.
Becker and Purcell would retard their prospect of ultimate
recovery, and finding no cause for apprehension from the natives,
I resolved to push forward to Bulloo, which I conjectured from
our northern position would be Cooper's Creek. My anxiety to move
arose from the fact that I feared Mr Burke's stores must require
replenishment, and that any party left at Cooper's Creek would be
anxiously expecting our arrival. On these considerations I gave
orders to prepare for a start on the following day.
Thursday, 4th April. Bulloo, or Wright's
At 9 a.m. the camels started, under charge of
Mr Hodgkinson and Belooch, Gobin's saddle being left behind, as
her back was getting very sore, and her lameness
incapacitated her from carrying any load. Considerable difficulty
was experienced in crossing the creek, which had been slightly
escarped from the steepness of the banks, but eventually the
camels with their loads were got over without injury. The track
led over the narrow belt of sandhills bordering the north bank of
the creek, and then debouching upon an extensive plain,
intersected with water-courses, and crowded with rat-holes,
pursued a course some few degrees to the E. of N. In places Mr.
Burke's track was hardly perceptible, but no difficulty was found
in regaining it, as it was flanked on the west side by the Bulloo
Range, and on the east side by a line of creek-timber running
with prominent headlands towards it at distances varying from six
to eight miles. Twelve miles from Koorliatto we passed one of
these points where Mr Burke had pitched his 52nd camp. We found
no water there. Eight miles farther we sighted Bulloo, and
established the camp at the point where we first struck it. The
horses which started after the camels overtook the latter, and
reached camp about half an hour before them. We saw no natives
throughout, the day save two who accompanied us a few miles from
Koorliatto, but signal fires broke out in all directions. The
weather continued fearfully hot.
Friday, 5th April, to Wednesday, 17th
Throughout the period included in the
above mentioned dates Mr Hodgkinson, Stone, Smith, and Belooch,
remained with me at Bulloo, spelling the camels and occasionally
visiting Koorliatto, to convey supplies to the party there. Dr.
Beckler's patients were gradually sinking, and Stone became much
worse. As the natives were very numerous, and apparently
collecting from the surrounding districts, I cut logs for a rough
stockade, which was subsequently erected. Though there was no
feed near the camp, at four or five miles distance grass and
salsolaceous plants were abundant, so that the cattle rapidly
improved. From the absence of any indication that Mr Burke had
stopped at this creek, I felt convinced that Cooper's Creek lay
still farther in advance, and made two advances, N.E. and N.W.,
for the purpose of tracing the course of the track. I found
Bulloo watercourse to consist of a large sheet of water,
extending some five miles to the north of our camp, with a
breadth of 100 to 200 yards and a depth in some parts of sixteen
or twenty feet. Fish of a considerable size were caught by the
party ; and at the northern termination of the waterhole, where
the creek branched with insignificant channels, numbers of
ingeniously constructed fishing dams showed that the natives
derived a considerable sustenance from its waters. At the
northern commencement of the small channels, which apparently
connect the larger water basins, but from their intricate courses
are difficult to follow, the plains became extremely stony, and
the track turning rapidly to the west, completely obliterated. On
the two occasions to which I have referred as advancing northerly
I was compelled to turn back from the hostility of the natives,
who, upon my camping, collected in large numbers, making fires
all round me, and trying to entice Smith, who accompanied me, by
means of their women. Bands often visited the camp, signifying
the ground to be theirs, and ordering us to move away. All these
demonstrations, in the present state of my party, gave me much
anxiety, and I felt anxious to obtain additional stores for
recruiting the sick and effectually supplying the advance party.
I instructed Mr Hodgkinson, therefore, to start for Menindie on
the 18th instant, with Belooch and seven of the camels, to escort
Mr Becker and Purcell to that township, and having engaged two
men in their places, to return as quickly as possible with
stores. By these means I should do away with the inconvenience of
two camps, afford two of the sick what I considered a chance of
ultimate recovery, and only, by Dr Beckler's return to the
Bulloo camp, lose one available hand. Moving backwards or
forwards with the whole depôt was impossible with so many
sick, and I thought myself still sufficiently strong to hold an
entrenched position against any attack made by the natives.
Thursday, 18th April.
This morning I sent Mr Hodgkinson on his
journey to Menindie, directing him to take charge of Mr Becker
and Purcell, and to request Dr Beckler to rejoin me. I had
constructed a cudjowar, or camel palanquin, for the carriage of
the two sick men, and I trusted that the prospect of a return to
the settled districts would lend them energy for the journey. The
natives visited the camp during the day, and pertinaciously hung
round the stores. They were accompanied by a boy, some eight
years of age, singularly impudent in his behaviour. Stone rapidly
got worse, being seized frequently with severe rheumatic pains.
Mr Hodgkinson, as afterwards reported, reached Koorliatto.
Friday, 19th April.
On this day Mr Hodgkinson returned from
Koorliatto, bringing with him a note from Dr Beckler, in which
that officer so strongly protested against the removal of Mr.
Becker and Purcell to Menindie as to leave me no alternative but
that of countermanding my instructions on that point. I therefore
directed Mr Hodgkinson to return to Koorliatto and bring Mr.
Becker and Purcell to Bulloo, together with the whole of the
camels, as I resolved not to send to Menindie any of the party
until I could form some more definite opinion regarding the
prospects of the recovery of the sick. Stone being much worse, I
instructed Dr Beckler to return without any delay, that he might
afford his medical assistance. No natives came near the camp
throughout the day, but the necessity of watching throughout the
night fell very severely on the few in health.
Saturday, 20th April.
Mr Hodgkinson left for Koorliatto, reaching
there at 11 a.m., but Dr Beckler did not start for Bulloo, being
unable to leave Mr Becker and Purcell with safety.
Sunday, 21st April.
Throughout last night signal fires were
burning around the camp here, and the natives imitated the howl
of the native dog, apparently for the purpose of ascertaining our
vigilance. Fifty-one rats were killed by means of a trap which I
had made ; but this slaughter, though greatly exceeding the
subsequent nightly average, did not seem to diminish either their
boldness or their numbers. Dr Beckler arrived at Bulloo at 5
p.m., and Mr Becker and Purcell were not reported as having
suffered from their removal. Two tents were at once pitched for
their accommodation. Mr Hodgkinson remained at Koorliatto, as
only two of the camels were found when Dr Beckler and Belooch
Monday, 22nd April.
Between 9 and 10 a.m. this morning, eight
natives came to the camp, armed, and upon being told to move off,
two went up, and the other six down the creek, joining
respectively two bands who have crossed the plains west of the
camp, and concealed themselves in the creek timber. In a few
minutes, a large body of them appeared on the bank of the creek,
distant sixty yards from our stores, thronging through the scrub,
and occasionally showing in the open, in parties of seven and
eight. A blackfellow, who went by the appellation of "Shirt,"
from having had that garment presented to him by us, was
particularly active, coming boldly up to the stores, and walking
unconcernedly around them. He then picked up about forty rats,
that were lying dead around, and, dropping a portion of them,
motioned for me to pick them up and carry them for him, merely, I
think, to get my head in an unguarded position. Several other
blacks were meanwhile drawing nearer to us, violently
gesticulating, making signs that they were hungry, and that we
were camped upon their ground. One tall, strapping lubra
accompanied them, and was exceedingly active, bearing a boomerang
with considerable grace, and inciting her companions to attack
us. At this time I had but two able men with me. Dr Beckler and.
Smith, Belooch having started for Koorliatto to assist Mr.
Hodgkinson in finding the camels and bringing them in. Our
cooking place was close to the creek, for the benefit of shade
and water, and the utensils were round the fire, together with
several clothes which had been washed by the party. Dr Beckler
reporting to me that he saw natives creeping on their hands and
knees near the fire, I took Smith down with me to clear them
away. It was indeed high time-several of them were fingering
their boomerangs as if impatient for a shy ; and lifting up the
lappels of Purcell's tent, commenced unpacking the medicine
basket, while a third, with an armfull of boomerangs, was
throwing them carelessly upon the ground near his brother
warriors. However, they were not quite resolved upon hostilities,
as when Smith and I pointed our pieces at them they quietly moved
off before us, and retired without any further manifestations of
hostility. Throughout this scene Stone, though dying, behaved
with great intrepidity, raising himself upon his bed and aiming
his revolver at the natives when they approached him. About 2
p.m., just as the blacks moved off, I was called by Stone, who,
grasping me by the hand, said, "I am going." He then spoke a few
words, and repeatedly asked that cold water should be thrown over
him, as he could not breathe. Within ten minutes from the time he
first called me, he turned upon his face and died. At 7 p.m. he
was buried near the camp, by Dr Beckler and Smith. I have
omitted to state that the blacks took away every portable article
from the fire, throwing away the tea and salt, and taking the
bags. Belooch reached Koorliatto early this morning, and Mr.
Hodgkinson started with him towards Bulloo, but were compelled to
camp eight miles from Koorliatto, owing to the late time at which
they recovered the camels.
Tuesday, 23rd April.
Mr Hodgkinson and Belooch reached Bulloo with
the camels at 8 a.m. this morning, and immediately they arrived
we unpacked all the stores, and passed the day in mending
rat-holes, and repacking them in the form of a stockade ; two
sides being formed by as many logs sufficiently straight as we
could procure at a reasonable distance. These logs were about
four feet in height above the ground, allowing us to fire easily
over them. The other two sides were not so high, but still a
tolerable protection. Inside the stockade, every available weapon
was placed so as to be handy for immediate use, and some of us
always slept within it. At the same time our fire was brought
within ten yards of it, as we had no more cooking apparatus to
spare. Our watch commenced at 8 p.m., and terminated at 6 a
Wednesday, 24th April.
The first announcement this morning was that
Purcell had died in the doctor's presence during the night. For
some days past he had been so weak. as to faint after drinking a
little water, and we had long been expecting his decease. I sent
Belooch and Smith to look after the horses which fed between
Bulloo and a tributary creek. About an hour after they started
the natives made their appearance, coming in twos and threes
through the thick scrub on the creek, until about a score had
collected. They were armed with new boomerangs, spears, and
waddies, and were accompanied by the boy previously mentioned,
whose conduct was even more impudent than before. At first the
boy advanced with two powerful fellows, hesitatingly towards the
stockade, while in their rear could be seen a dozen others
attentively watching their proceedings. Mr Hodgkinson having
brought in the things from the fire, I advanced with him towards
the natives, motioning them to be off. Disregarding my attempts
to clear them off, I caught hold of the boy, and, turning him
round, gave him plainly to understand that he would not he
allowed to remain near the camp. I thought proper to do this as
he was evidently only brought to insult us, and at length he
retired with the others to a short distance. We then entered the
stockade and watched the proceedings of the natives, who were
joined about this time by another party from the S.W. The whole
body then clustered around Stone's grave and became most
insulting in their demeanor. Taking up a dead rat, one of them
made a harangue upon it, and concluded by flinging it
contemptuously at us. Finding we did not notice this, they threw
the earth from Stone's grave in the air, and after carrying logs
as if mocking the erection of the stockade, made signs that we
should all meet the same fate as those dead. I was very unwilling
to fire at them, and allowed them to throw several sticks at us
rather than commence actual hostilities. By noon they had
concluded their demonstrations, and moved quietly off to a camp
which they had established to the north of us. Smith and Belooch
returned at nightfall, having been unable to find the horses.
Shortly afterwards Dr Beckler and Mr Hodgkinson commenced
digging Purcell's grave.
Thursday, 25th April.
At daylight I directed Mr, Hodgkinson to
complete Purcell's grave, and, with Dr Beckler's assistance, he
was buried by 8 a.m. Immediately after breakfast I started with
Smith for the horses, but had not proceeded two miles before
signal fires rose all around me, and I returned to the camp, so
that the natives should not derive any advantage from my absence.
I should have premised that we had heard a horse-bell in the
morning on the opposite side of Bulloo Creek, and that Mr.
Hodgkinson, who swam over for the purpose, ascertained that six
of the horses were feeding upon the bank. I now resolved upon
crossing them if possible, and Dr Beckler swam with Mr.
Hodgkinson across the creek at midday, for the purpose of
driving them into the water. This desirable object was
accomplished, after a little delay in getting them to take the
water. The natives did not molest us throughout the day, and in
the afternoon I disposed of the few clothes belonging to the men
lately deceased, as some of us were sadly in want of a fresh
Friday, 26th April.
The day passed very quietly, no natives
Saturday, 27th April.
This morning, fortunately, no one went after
the cattle, as the horses were quietly feeding within sight, and
the camels came home with great regularity at sunset, camping
close to the stockade. The stores were all unpacked, and, after
the rat-holes had been mended, replaced in their former position.
About eleven o'clock the cry of "Natives!" started us to our
feet, and every article near the fire was carried into the
stockade with the utmost celerity. On looking out a body of
natives, numbering between forty and fifty, could be seen
advancing towards us from the west, not seeking any cover, but
marching in good order straight across the open plain. On this
occasion I saw plainly that they meant mischief, as they were all
painted, and bore more spears than we had seen on any former
occasion. Most of them were painted with a deep red band, from
the neck down the centre of the chest, crossed by similar bands
at right angles to it. When within a couple of hundred yards,
they quickened their pace into a run, exciting each other with
war cries, and placing their arms in position. "Shirt,"
accompanied by two other leaders, was in the van, and despite all
my motions for them to stop, had approached within a few yards of
us before I gave the order to fire. A few discharges repulsed,
them, but as they collected again some 600 yards off, I fired a
rifle at them and effectually dispersed them. As soon as they
disappeared, we visited Mr Becker in his tent, and found that he
was quite unconscious of any unusual occurrence. I now resolved
to quit Bulloo immediately, as such a small party was quite unfit
to maintain a long contest against the large tribes around, and
any men would be picked off while necessarily absent in search of
the camels. I instructed Mr Hodgkinson and Smith to get up the
camels without delay, and all save Coppin and Mutwala, which
could not be found, were brought in, and tied around the
Sunday, 28th April.
At 6 a.m. Dr Beckler and Belooch started
after the two missing camels, and succeeded in getting them. The
day was passed in preparing for a start on the following
morning repacking the loads, and burning all articles of a
cumbrous and useless description. The cattle were kept near the
camp all day, and appeared inclined to remain near us.
Monday, 29th April.
The horses were very troublesome during the
night, perpetually trying to steal away, and, though closely
hobbled, more than once attempting to swim the broad creek. About
3 a.m. a bell was heard from the south, and a number of dark
objects, like cattle, could be dimly seen through the darkness.
When daylight broke these objects were recognised as forming part
of the mob of horses taken on by Mr Burke, and shortly
afterwards Mr Brahe came up, and reported that he had just
arrived from Cooper's Creek, where Mr Burke had left him on the
16th of December in charge of a depôt consisting of Patten,
McDonough, Botan, six camels, and twelve horses. Mr Brahe
had received instructions to remain at Cooper's Creek for three
or four months but had extended that period to eighteen weeks,
and only left when his rations ran short. Previous to leaving he
had made a cache of provisions, sufficient to enable Mr Burke
and party if competent to retrace their steps, to reach the
Darling. Mr Brahe had not followed Mr Burke's track to
Bulloo, but had pursued a direct course, and reached the 52nd
camp of Mr Burke, eight miles south of my depôt, in about
eighty miles. His horses had been 100 hours without water, but
travelled with much less difficulty than could have been hoped
for. On proceeding to Mr Brahe's camp I found Patten
suffering from scurvy to an alarming extent, McDonough almost
unable to work, and Botan complaining. Mr Brahe placed
himself under my orders, and I united the two camps in the course
of the morning. Of the camels brought down by Mr Brahe I
found three-Beer, Rowa, and Mustana, suffering severely from
scab. The others were in good condition.
Monday, 29th April.
quarter-past five this afternoon Mr Becker died.
Tuesday, 30th April.
The night passed quietly, no signs of natives
being near having occurred. Early this morning Mr Becker was
buried, the stockade pulled down, and the logs used to form, as
far as possible, a protection to the dead. Mr Becker's clothes,
bedding, tent, &c., being quite unfit for use, were burned,
and his other effects placed in a pack for conveyance to