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June 1861

Original item held at the State Library of Victoria, SLV MS13071, Box 2083/3b .
Victorian Exploring Expedition Records, Part IX: Journals and diaries of members of the VEE.
William Wright's diary of the Depot Camp, Darling River. 26 January-21 June 1861.
Manuscript, 92 pages, numbered 1-90 with final page unnumbered.

 

Sunday, 2nd June. Karriapundi Plain.
At 4 a.m. all hands were called, and at nine o'clock we started for our next water dependence, Torowoto, a hundred and eighteen miles distant. Smith and McDonough, who were much better, rode on horseback. Botan conducted the camels, and Dr Beckler and Mr Hodgkinson escorted Patten and Belooch, who were carried by Jambel. After great and frequent delays, caused by the necessity of adjusting pillows, &c., for Patten, the camp was pitched fifteen miles from Poria Creek. The camels were watched while feeding till 9 p.m., and then tied up.

Monday, 3rd June. Karriapundi.
At 2 am. the camels were fed and watched, and at 8 a start effected. Patten, who fancied he could ride Simla with greater ease, being placed upon that animal, I started with the horses some time after the camels, overtaking them at 1 p.m. I learned from Dr Beckler that Patten had been incessantly moaning since leaving the camp, and begging that we might stop. This request, with no prospect of water before reaching Torowoto, except that we had sent on, was not to be listened to however much to be regretted; and after attempting to console the poor fellow as far as possible, I gave orders to Dr Beckler not to allow any delays under any circumstances whatever. Soon after Patten became delirious insisting that we had brought him on to kill him, and begging to be allowed to die where he then was. Under these painful circumstances, the party proceeded till a quarter to six, when I reached the spot where Mr Brahe had deposited the water. I was alarmed to find that a great portion of the water had leaked out and issued one bucket to each horse and camel. We had very little rest throughout the night, as the horses kept hanging about the water, and at twenty minutes to twelve I ordered the camels to be loosed, in order to give them every chance of feeding. Heavy rain clouds hung over us for many hours, and a few drops disappointed our hopes of a greater fall.

Tuesday 4th June. Karriapundi.
At a quarter to eight started, and, travelling without stoppage till sunset, reached a spot twelve miles north of Rat Point, finding there to our great surprise a fine pool of water. Half a mile previously to reaching it, Burra, one of the sick camels, fell down, and, evidently being unable to travel, was left behind. Patten travelled in nearly an insensible condition all day. The weather was bitterly cold, and a, tent was pitched at night immediately we arrived at camp for his accommodation. The feed was very luxuriant, and the camels were allowed to remain loose all night.

Wednesday, 5th June. Rat Point.
The unexpected meeting with water induced me to delay a little this morning for the purpose of giving, all those desirous of doing so the opportunity, of a good wash, and it was twenty minutes to eleven before a start was effected. While saddling, an unusual number of native dogs were noticed hunting round the water, and regarding the camels with great curiosity. My intention on leaving camp was to camp at Rat Point, as I confidently expected to find water in the hole I had previously discovered when leaving Torowoto On arriving at the spot, however, so circumscribed was the area covered by the late rainfall, I found no traces of water, and camped five miles nearer Torowoto. Patten was all day insensible, and unconscious of any change in his position.

Thursday, 6th June. Mud Plains.
At 4 a.m. it was found that Patten had died during the night, and Mr Brahe and myself dug a grave for him by firelight. As soon as his funeral could be performed, the party started for the hole dug by Dr Beckler and Mr Hodgkinson during their stay at Rat Point, and reached it at one o'clock, finding abundance of water in the vicinity.

Friday, 7th June. Torowoto.
A great improvement was discernible in the health of the men. Smith, Belooch and McDonough, the former especially, were able to work a little, and Botan was the only man in very bad health. At an hour before sunset the horses reached Torowoto, but not a drop of water could be found in any part of the swamp. This was a great disappointment, as I had certainly calculated on finding a supply and was unwilling to send the camels backward and forward as water carriers. There was a strong probability of rain from the appearance of the sky, and during the evening and night sufficient fell to afford us a tolerably good stock of water.

Saturday, 8th June. Torowoto.
Spelled at Torowoto. Put up two tents for protection against the rain, which fell intermittently throughout the day.

Sunday, 9th June. Torowoto.
Spelled at Torowoto. Packed up for a start. Intermittent showers throughout the day.

Monday, 10th June. Paldromatta Creek.
Started at twenty-five minutes past 9 a.m. Camped at Paldromatta at a quarter to 8 p.m. No water in the Creek, but passed a little on the road.

Tuesday, 11th June. Wannaminta.
Started at fifteen minutes past 8 a.m. ; travelled sixteen miles, and camped at a claypan near the creek which was erroneously named Yeltawinge in the first part of the diary.

Wednesday 12th June. Wannaminta.
Started at 2 p.m. with the camels, as they strayed during the night. Met some [natives] who had accompanied Mr Burke to Torowoto, and accepted their services as guides to a shallow rocky waterhole, eight miles from our last camp.

Thursday, 13th June. Tirltawinge.
Started at a quarter to ten, and reached water in Tirltawinge Creek, formerly marked on the diary as Wannaminta, at 4 p.m. Tracks of kangaroo abundant, whence the name of the creek, Tirlta, signifying kangaroo. Not expecting water at the next creek (Nuntherunge), I had a couple of bags filled for a supply. The natives remained near us, and were very solicitous to assist us.

Friday, 14th June. Nuntherunge.
On leaving Tirltawinge I made several presents to our black friends, and took one of them, a youth of some fifteen years of age, on with the party. We reached Nuntherunge at an early hour in the afternoon, and found the bed of the creek quite dry, but by sinking a couple of feet obtained sufficient water for camels, horses, and bathing purposes. Splendid feed on the creek.

Saturday, 15th June, to Friday, 21st June. Nuntherunge.
After camping at Nantabulla or Hobson's Basin, and Wotwinge - two gorges amply supplied with water, in the Motanie Ranges - I proceeded to Badurga ; and finding no water there, and only sufficient for the camels at Bilpa, pushed on with the horses to Coorkerega, from whence, after remaining two days, I reached the Darling on the 18th instant. The camels arrived on the following day, experiencing heavy rain-storms at Bilpa and between Coorkerega and the river. I established the depot camp in its former situation at the junction of Pamamoroo Creek with the Darling. I had the honor, on the Friday following, to despatch Mr Brahe with a summary of this diary, and Mr Burke's despatches, addressed to the Committee, and I trust that the celerity with which I forward the messenger will be sufficient excuse for its imperfect compilation and clerical deficiencies.

W Wright, Officer in Charge.

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