Friday, 1st March. Rat
The party, as before-mentioned, were divided
between Torowoto and Rat Point. A drizzling rain fell through
the night at Torowoto. The natives became rather troublesome,
pilfering little articles.
Saturday, 2nd March Rat
Dr Beckler returned to Torowoto with
rations. The party were stationed as before. Mr Hodgkinson
killed a snake some three feet in length, very thick in
proportion to its length, of a dirty deep brown color, with large
livid irregularly marked blotches. The natives represented it as
highly poisonous, but did not scruple to devour it with great
Sunday, 3rd March. Rat
No change in the disposition of the party.
Monday, 4th March. Rat
Still no change.
Tuesday, 5th March. Rat
No change. Prepared to return to Rat Point on
the following day.
Wednesday, 6th March. Rat
Mr Hodgkinson took a supply of water to Mr.
Becker and Purcell, from Torowoto.
Thursday, 7th March. Rat
The party stationed at Rat Point and
Torowoto, as before.
Friday, 8th March. Rat
Mr Hodgkinson returned to Torowoto with
rations, having previously submitted to Mr Becker a plan for
following my track, as they were apprehensive, from my lengthened
absence, that some accident had occurred to me. The horses
strayed from Torowoto, but were recovered some ten miles
Saturday, 9th March. Rat
No change in the disposition of the party.
Sunday, 10th March. Rat
Dr Beckler and Messrs. Hodgkinson and Stone,
having filled six pair of water-bags, started for Rat Point with
the intention of pushing out in search of me with four of the
camels and two men ; but on their arrival at the waterhole,
sixteen miles from Rat Point, found Smith and Belooch, whom, on
my arrival this morning I had sent there with the camels, and
instructions that Stone should return accompanied by Smith to
Torowoto, that Dr Beckler should at once push on to Rat Point
with water, and that he should be followed on the following day
by Mr Hodgkinson and Belooch with the camels. The events
occurring during my absence northward are as follow :-On February
24th, the day I started, I went about twelve miles nearly due
north, searching for water in every likely spot, and camping upon
a dry sandy creek. From thence I proceeded twenty miles farther
on the same course, crossing large dry gum creeks running from
all directions, and finally camped on one of them. The third day,
while still seeking water, I saw Mr Burke's track for the first
time since leaving Rat Point, and camped that evening upon some
sandhills to east of Karriapundi Swamp, whence I could not obtain
water, in consequence of the boggy nature of the ground, and the
presence of a large body of natives. The next morning I struck
for the N.E., over a sandy undulating country, and at 2 p.m.
reached a large watercourse coming from the eastward but
containing no water. Upon the fifth morning, at dawn, I noticed a
fire from a native camp, about half a mile from my own, and
passed the day in searching for water, not once seeing Mr.
Burke's track, which I then conjectured must be upon the
north-western side of the swamp. On the sixth morning I found the
camels greatly exhausted from fatigue and want of water, they
having had but twelve quarts each since leaving Rat Point. I
returned, therefore, to where I had seen the water in the swamp,
and camped, still unable to get a supply. The following (seventh
day) I skirted the swamp, and at noon succeeded in reaching a
place where the water was accessible. On tasting it, it was found
to be excessively brackish, or rather like lime water, since when
thrown on the heated claypans it caused a hissing sound. The
camels drank greedily without any ill effects, but the men and
myself suffered from it very considerably. On the eighth morning
I returned to the place where I had last seen Mr Burke's track,
and found that he had diverged from his course of N. by W. to
N.E. Our rations were this day all finished, with the exception
of three pounds of oatmeal and a little tea, I was determined,
however, to push on to the next permanent water, in order to be
enabled to bring on the party. I gave orders that each man should
have three spoonfuls of oatmeal per diem. Camped thirty-four
miles from the lime water in Karriapundi Swamp, on a, sandhill.
On the ninth day I made a waterhole about five miles N E. of my
last camp, and saw two bullocks there. Passed on, and
twenty-seven miles further, still crossing undulating sandy
country, reached a fine creek (Poria), and camped six miles on
its north side. On the tenth morning I made a camp of Mr.
Burke's, marked 52, and situated upon a dry arm of Bulloo Creek.
Crossed during the day, twenty-five miles from Poria Creek,
another fine creek (Koorliatto), apparently dry. Saw no water or
natives throughout the day, though signal-fires rose in every
direction, at brief intervals. On the eleventh day I reached
Bulloo, and, after remaining a few minutes, returned to Rat
Point, arriving there on the fifteenth day. We were fortunate
enough to kill a turkey and three pigeons during our return, the
former of which enabled us to get along tolerably well, but the
pigeons were stolen by the rats in the night.
Monday, 11th March. Rat
The horses and camels strayed during the night
from the water-hole dug upon the plains to Torowoto, and it was
twelve o'clock before the latter reached Rat Point, as they were
not overtaken till they had regained the swamp. The horses were
left in charge of Stone and Smith at Torowoto, with orders to
start thence on Wednesday. The health of the men gave me much
anxiety. Smith, Belooch, and myself suffered from diarrhoea. Mr.
Becker and Stone manifested scorbutic symptoms, and Purcell had
swollen legs and numerous sores. Trusting that a change from the
inaction of Rat Point would benefit them, I gave orders to start
on the following morning.
Tuesday, 12th March.
uncovering our stores, which we had buried, in order to preserve
them as much as possible from the rats, I was gratified to find
that less damage had been caused than I had had reason to expect.
I thought proper to despatch Dr Beckler, Mr Becker, Mr.
Hodgkinson, Purcell, and Belooch, with the camels in advance, so
that the water they carried might enable the horses to reach the
water-hole I had discovered between Karriapundi and Poria Creek,
a distance of 102 miles from Torowoto. After travelling twelve
miles, the camels had to stop, from the bottom of one of the pack
bags falling out. Mr Becker and myself remained at Rat
Wednesday, 13th March.
given orders to Dr Beckler not to tie up the camels at night, in
order that they might have every opportunity to feed
Unfortunately the majority of them took advantage of this liberty
to stray back to Torowoto, and Dr Beckler and Belooch Had to
return there, a distance of fifty-two miles, for their recovery.
Mr Hodgkinson and Purcell remained with the saddles, stores, and
water, amounting to twenty buckets. Dr Beckler, in returning to
Torowoto, took three pairs of water-bags with him, and
previously to his starting a couple of buckets were given to the
camel he rode. Stone and Smith came into Rat Point with the
horses, as instructed, and camped there with Mr Becker and
myself. The weather was so fearfully hot that the horses appeared
knocked up by their journey from Torowoto here.
Thursday, 14th March. Mud
I started early in the morning with the
horses, and on reaching the camel camp, at twelve miles'
distance, gave each horse a bucket of water, and took four
buckets for use. Leaving instructions for the camels to push on
as soon as they should arrive from Torowoto, I hastened onwards
with Mr Becker, Stone, Smith, and the horses, reaching the water
-hole north of the Karriapundi Swamp on the 16th inst., after
experiencing great difficulty, both men and horses being knocked
up ; our supply of four buckets of water from the camel camp
having almost all leaked away.
Friday, 15th March. Mud
Mr Hodgkinson and Purcell remained at the
camel camp with the stores. Dr Beckler and Belooch were engaged
in getting the camels back from Torowoto.
Saturday, 16th March. Mud.
Dr Beckler and Belooch returned from
Torowoto with the camels, and rejoined Mr Hodgkinson and
Purcell at the camp.
Sunday, 17th March.
camp started after me and reached a spot seventeen miles in
advance of their last camp. Fortunately for them a shower fell,
which filled the claypans near their camp, and enabled the camels
to drink to their content. Purcell was reported to me as
suffering greatly from pains in his legs, and rode upon one of
the camels throughout the day. Two of the camels, Gobin and
Rangee, had very bad hump sores, from the ill fitting saddles
supplied them. The horses reached Poria Creek with the party
accompanying me, and one horse died from want of water and
fatigue, though every caution was used in supplying the weaker
ones with a drink.
Monday, 18th March. Karriapundi
The camels, skirting the N.W. bank of
Karriapundi Swamp. camped about eight miles to the north of it.
Gobin, one of the camels, became very footsore, and his load was
distributed among the other camels. Coppin, or Janglee, one of
the Cremorne camels, was also slightly affected in the same
manner; and the whole of the camels were considerably fatigued
by the heavy work they had lately performed. Shadow, the smallest
of the camels, was by far the best in condition and carried her
heavy load with apparent ease. Another horse died at Poria today
from the effects of his push across the waterless plain south of
Tuesday, 19th March. Mud
Plains, at 3 p.m.
Still among the same uninteresting
salt bush plains. The camels reached the waterhole where the
horses had camped on the 16th inst. Mr Hodgkinson and Belooch
contrived to preserve sufficient water by digging a hole and
filtering the mud through the large marsh-mallow seeds growing
near the spot. Smith, whom I sent this morning from Poria Creek
with a supply of water, joined the camel party in the afternoon,
but found them tolerably well supplied from the rain that had
fallen south of Karriapundi.
Wednesday, 20th March. Poria
The camel party reached Poria Creek this day,
and I found Purcell much worse than when I last saw him at Rat
Point. Poria is a fine creek, abounding in fish, and when very
full throwing its surplus waters towards Karriapundi. Our camp
was situated at its south termination, its course being nearly
north and south. The banks were fringed with stunted bastard box,
and we derived much benefit during our stay there from the
Thursday, 21st March, until Thursday,
26th March. Poria Creek.
During the period included
between the above dates I spelled the party at the creek, hoping
that the men would in some degree regain their health. I regret
to state, however, that I had little reason to congratulate
myself upon the results. Mr Becker and Purcell became much
worse, and utterly unable to walk about, and Smith and Stone did
not at all improve, though energetically discharging their
respective duties. As I Had found no water in the crossing at the
next creek (Koorliatto), I sent Dr Beckler, Smith, and Belooch
thither with a supply, directing them to conceal it as well as
possible from the natives.
Friday, 29th March. Poria
The rats committed great
ravages during our stay at this creek, and were far bolder than
the majority of domesticated animals in their attacks. Owing to
the necessity of examining every bag it was half-past twelve
before the camels started with Dr Beckler, Mr Becker, and
Purcell, who had to be carried upon camels. Mr Hodgkinson and
Belooch, Smith, Stone, and myself remained at the creek with the
horses. The camel party camped at 4 p.m. on the site of Mr.
Burke's 51st camp. A heavy fall of rain took place during the
Saturday, 30th March. Koorliatto
At 9 a.m. the camels started, the rain still
falling, but ceasing in an hour's time. At 3 p.m. they reached
Koorliatto Creek, and at 8 p.m. the horses, which travelled from
Poria, joined them. Stone, who had received a wetting on the
night of the 29th, became much worse, and I had a tent put up for
Mr Becker and Purcell, who were unable to proceed farther. We
found the creek running, though dry a few days before. Its course
trended from E. to N.W. for seven or eight miles, skirting the
S.W. base of the Bulloo Range, and then turning sharp to the W.
direct for Poria Creek, of which I conjecture it to be a main
feeder. There was much more timber on this creek than on Poria,
and splendid feed for the cattle on the sandhills adjacent.
Sunday, 31st March. Koorliatto
Morning broke piercingly cold, with a cloudy
sky and drizzling rain. About 10 a.m. the rain cleared off, but I
did not think it prudent to move with so many sick.