Wednesday, 1st May.
Saddling commenced at 6 a.m., and half-past
10 a.m. we left Bulloo on our return to Menindie. Dr Beckler,
Mr Hodgkinson, Mr Brahe, Botan, and myself were the only
healthy members of the party ; and I did not see the utility of
pushing on the depot to Cooper's Creek for the purpose of
remaining there the few weeks our stores would last. Our
cavalcade made quite an imposing appearance with its twenty-two
horses and fifteen camels, and the spirits of the whole party
were animated by the prospect of regaining the settled districts.
Several stoppages took place during the day, from the necessity
of altering the seat of our invalids or re-adjusting loads ; and
to show that our departure was not unnoticed by the natives,
fires sprang up at every mile of our progress until we reached
Koorliatto, at a tolerably early hour in the afternoon. Patten
was greatly fatigued by his ride.
Thursday, 2nd May.
Spelled at Koorliatto. Got up a tent for
Friday, 3rd May.
As I was anxious to ascertain before
finally leaving the country whether Mr Burke had visited the old
depot at Cooper's Creek between the present date and that on
which he left on his advance northward, or whether the stores
cached there had been disturbed by the natives, I started with
Mr Brahe and three horses for Cooper's Creek, and reached
the head waters of that creek on Sunday, the 5th, in about
seventy miles, steering about W.N.W. I did not -find any water
throughout that distance, but crossed several fine large gum
creeks, and saw an immense number of native dogs. The remainder
of the party stayed at Koorliatto.
Saturday, 4th May.
The party at Koorliatto got up two other
tents for the accommodation of the invalids, and formed a
temporary stockade of camel saddles, etc. A blackfellow visited
them during the day.
Sunday, 5th May.
Depot spelled at Koorliatto.
Monday, 6th May.
Depot spelled at Koorliatto.
McDonough and Smith became much worse, and, with Belooch, were
unfit for any duty whatever.
Tuesday, 7th May.
The depot spelled at Koorliatto.
Wednesday, 8th May.
This morning I reached the Cooper's Creek
depot and found no sign of Mr Burke having visited the
creek, or the natives having disturbed the stores. I therefore
retraced my steps to the depot which remained at
Thursday, 9th May.
The depot still spelling here.
Simla, one of Mr Burke's camels, strayed during the day, and
could not be found.
Friday, 10th May.
The natives appeared again within sight
of the depot, and one walked through the camp. Mr.
Brahe and myself still en route for Koorliatto.
Saturday, 11th May.
The depot still spelling at
Koorliatto. Mr Brahe and myself en route for the
Sunday 12th May.
Mr Hodgkinson and Botan engaged in
searching for Simla, and found that he had lain on the previous
night at a place called the Doctor's Camp, a little higher up the
creek. At 6 p.m., a violent thunderstorm broke over the camp,
during which the absent camel voluntarily rejoined the mob. Rain
continued throughout the night.
Monday, 13th May.
I returned to the depot at 8 a.m.
this morning, and found the country between it and Cooper's Creek
to be in general well grassed, but destitute of any permanent
water supply, though, from the presence throughout my course of
numerous wild dogs, pigeons, &c., there must be water
accessible. The country bordering Cooper's Creek is the most
miserable I have ever seen, and I am at a loss to account for the
favorable impression it has made upon the minds of previous
explorers. The creek itself is bordered by stony rises entirely
destitute of herbage, and mud plains so fissured as to render
travelling over them when dry extremely dangerous, and so liable
to inundation that it would be unsafe to camp upon them for any
length of time. The natives who camped in great numbers while Mr.
Brahe's depot was there, had disappeared at the period
of my visit, and but four were seen by Mr Brahe and myself.
Our horses had no water from Friday evening until last evening,
when the same thunderstorm that visited the Koorliatto depot
passed over us.
Tuesday, 14th May.
The depot prepared for a start and
took down the tents, &c.
Wednesday, 15th May.
Packed stores, &c., the camels did
not return to camp at night, as was their usual custom, the
females, accompanied by Simla and Bell Sing, staying out.
Thursday, l6th May, to Sunday, 19th May.
Looking for the lost camels, which were
eventually recovered on Sunday, the 19th, by Mr, Brahe and
Belooch, with the exception of Bell Sing, which camel they were
unable to find.
Monday, 20th May.
Mr Brahe and Smith engaged in
looking for Bell Sing, but were unable to find him either on this
or Poria. Creek, or in the country lying between. At night they
returned, and all the camels were tied up ready for starting next
Tuesday, 21st May.
Commenced loading at 6, but did not
finish till I p.m., the horses being a considerable distance from
the camp, and the sick requiring great care in their removal.
When about to place Patten on a camel, he stated that he should
not feel safe upon the contrivance rigged for his conveyance ; I
therefore gave orders to unpack, and re-camped immediately,
pitching a tent for his convenience. At nightfall only eight of
our fifteen camels returned to the camp.
Wednesday, 22nd May.
During the night the cries of the camels
were heard in the direction of Mr Burke's camp on this creek,
and at daylight they were discovered to have passed the night
there. Getting them up at twenty minutes past twelve we effected
another start, but had not travelled above half-a-mile before we
were compelled to recamp, McDonough, who rode on horseback,
fainting from weakness. Finding the camels greatly encumbered by
the carriage of the sick, I placed 3 cwt. of their loading upon
the horses, which were but lightly burdened.
Thursday, 23rd May.
Having made some change in the
disposition of the carriage of the sick, I started at a quarter
past eleven, and reached a sandhill twelve miles from Koorliatto,
where I camped. During the day the horses were watered at a
claypan filled by the recent rains. The weather, which was very
cold and windy, prevented the camels from feeling any inclination
to drink. A continual watch was set upon them while feeding.
Friday. 24th May. Poria
Saddled at dawn. The morning was bitterly cold
and very dark. Got away at a quarter past ten, and after
travelling three miles passed near a large body of natives, who
slunk away on observing us. Our rate of progress with the camels
was very slow. Patten frequently entreating me to stop, as the
motion pained him. At 4 p.m. Poria Creek was sighted, and half a
hour subsequently we camped within a mile of Mr Burke's 50th
camp, keeping watch all night.
Saturday, 25th May, to 1st June. Poria
During the period thus included, the
depot remained at Poria Creek, partly in the hope of
recruiting the weak, and partly to prepare for the country
between here and Torowoto, as I could not hope for water between
these points, unless rain fell. For a few days I had some hope of
a serviceable fall of rain, as heavy clouds passed to the
southward, and a few drops occasionally fell near the camp. The
camels all became affected with the scab, and one of them died
from its effects. I made several searches after Bell Sing without
avail, and on the 28th Mr Brahe and Botan started with the
camels fit for service to take on water two days' journey towards
Torowoto, and on the 31st they returned, Mr Brahe
reporting that he had deposited the water six miles north of
Karriapundi Swamp, which appeared to be quite dry. While
searching for Bell Sing, I several times met a small body of
natives, camped down the creek, and presented them with a
tomahawk in return for some fish which they gave me. Patten
appeared slightly improved by his stay at Poria, and McDonough
and Belooch were decidedly better. Weather exceedingly cold.