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1860

Original minute books of the Exploration Committee of the Royal Society of Victoria are held at:
State Library of Victoria, SLV MS13071; Boxes 2075/1, 2075/2, 207/3, 2088B/1.
Mostly bound volumes, manuscript, handwritten in ink.
Some missing, some incomplete, and many generally not in chronological order.

Nicholson Ministry to 26 November 1860.

Thursday, 5 January 1860.
Meeting of the Exploration Committee.
Present: Mueller (Chair), Wilkie, Gilbee, Neumayer, Elliott, Mackenna.

It was proposed that James Smith Esq. be elected to the Committee.

A sub-committee of Mueller, Wilkie and Mackenna. draw up the Progress Report to be presented at a Special General Meeting to be held on the 23rd.

Related archive: SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., pages numbered.

• p. 30. Minutes of the EC meeting, 5 January 1860.

Monday, 9 January 1860.
At a Special General Meeting of the Royal Society of Victoria, held in the evening at the Institute's new hall, the Fourth Progress Report of the Exploration Committee was presented by Dr Wilkie, moved by Mr Acheson, seconded by Dr Mackenna. and adopted.

Dr Mueller was in the chair and there were about 40 members present. The President stated that the Society were much indebted to Dr Wilkie for the time he had devoted, and the zeal he had manifested, in promoting the cause of exploration.

Friday, 20 January 1860.
Ordinary meeting of the Exploration Committee.
Present: Hodgson (Chair), Wilkie.

Wilkie read the Fourth Progress Report and moved that the two Committees be merged. Hodgson did not agree with merging the Committees.

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the EC meeting, 20 January 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., pages numbered.

• p. 31. Minutes of the EC meeting, 20 January 1860.

Monday 23 January 1860.
* Meeting of the EFC;
A Public Meeting of subscribers to the Exploration Fund was held at the Mechanics Institute, Collins-street.
Present: Hodgson (Chair), Wilkie, Macadam, (Watson?), Mueller.

About 15-20 gentlemen were present. The funds necessary to secure the £1,000 had been raised and the Fund Raising Committee was dissolved and most of its members were re-incorporated into the Exploration Committee.
The Hon. John Hodgson left the Committee and Clement Hodgkinson was elected. The Special Progress Report detailed the fund raising efforts.

Mr Watson moved the adoption of the report, and in doing so, said he was happy to be able to congratulate the members of the Committee upon the financial state of affairs. He was satisfied that he was expressing the opinions of all interested in the cause of exploration, when he stated that the warmest thanks were due to the Committee for the time and trouble they had demoted to the furtherance of their object. Mr P H Smith seconded the resolution, which was carried.

Mr Gilbee moved;

That the thanks of this meeting be accorded to the members of the Exploration Fund Committee for the valuable services they have rendered to the cause of exploration, and that a special vote of thanks be accorded to his Honour Sir William Foster Stawell, for the warm interest he has taken and the kind assistance he has rendered at all times as chairman of that Committee.

Mr Davies seconded the motion, which was carried.

Dr Mackenna moved;

That, as it is now essential that there should be only one Exploration Committee, and as it is believed that Her Majesty's Government in Victoria are willing to entrust to the Exploration Committee of the Royal Society of Victoria the management of the proposed expedition, for which the sum of, £6,000, has been voted by Parliament, it is hereby resolved, that the Hon Treasurer, the Hon Dr Wilkie, MLC, be authorised to transfer the subscriptions to the Exploration Fund to the credit of the Exploration Committee of the Royal Society of Victoria, subject to this condition, that the following members of the Exploration Fund Committee, as representing the subscribers to the Exploration Fund, be added to the Exploration Committee of the Royal Society, Viz. His Honour the Chief Justice the Hon John Hodgson MLC; Professor McCoy, Dr Ferdinand Mueller, James Smith Esq; Dr Macadam MLA: the Hon Dr Wilkie MLC.

Mr Gilbee suggested that the name of Mr Hodgkinson should he added to the list. Dr Wilkie said that it could be brought under the notice of the Royal Society, which would meet that evening. Mr Davies, seconded the resolution, which was carried.

The Chairman stated that it having been decided that the funds should be handed over to the credit of the Exploration Fund, a meeting would be convened to originate the best means for carrying out the object of the report, as it was deemed advisable that no time should be lost in order to allow the expedition to start in February.

Dr Wilkie moved a vote of thanks to the Chairman, who, he stated, had taken very great trouble to collect the amount of £2,000, and to promote the object in view. Mr Hodgson had collected £300, and without his valuable assistance the Committee would not, in all probability, have met on the present occasion. Dr Mueller seconded the motion, which was carried.

The Chairman said he had been amply rewarded for any exertions he had made, by finding that the object of those exertions had been accomplished. The subscribers, generally, had come forward in the most liberal manner, and he hoped and trusted the object would be carried out for which the money had been raised, and that the result would prove that it had not been raised in vain.

The proceedings then terminated.

*****
Meeting of the RSV;
That evening there was a special general meeting of the Royal Society of Victoria, held in the evening at the Hall in Victoria-street. About 30 members were present, Dr Mueller in the chair.

Dr Wilkie reported the result of a meeting of subscribers to the Exploration Fund, which had been held that afternoon at the Mechanics' Institute, and moved that the names of James Smith, Esq., and Clement Hodgkinson, Esq., be added to the Exploration Committee of the Royal Society. Dr Iffla seconded the motion, which was carried.

The President thought that, as it was advisable to take as prompt action as possible in everything connected with the exploration of the interior, the standing orders should be suspended, and the gentlemen in question elected members. The suggestion met with general approval. Dr Wilkie moved that the thanks of the Society be accorded to the gentlemen forming the Finance Committee of the Exploration Committee.

Mr Acheson seconded the motion, which was carried. A suggestion of Dr Wilkie's that the resolution be conveyed to his Honour the Chief Justice, the Chairman of the Committee, being also acceded to.

Dr Macadam suggested that, as it was necessary that the funds voted by the Legislature should be made available as early as possible, a petition should be presented to the Hon the Chief Secretary to that effect. The Rev Mr Jarrety seconded the motion.

Mr Ligar thought the Government could not give the money until after the passing of the Appropriation Act. He would, therefore, suggest that the Legislative Council be requested to arrange that the amount in question might be placed at the disposal of the Society as soon as possible.

The President thought it was high time that arrangements, which must of necessity extend over several weeks, should be commenced as early as it was possible. He thought that by judicious and economical management the sum might be made to extend over two winters.

Dr Wilkie thought it might be left to the Exploration Committee, which would meet on Wednesday morning, to act in the matter. The motion that the Society wait upon the Hon the Chief Secretary was then put, and carried.

Related archive: SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 32. Minutes of the EC meeting, 23 January 1860.
• p. 32. Minutes of the meeting of subscribers to the Exploration Fund, 23 Jan 1860.

Wednesday, 25 January 1860.
The 'new' Exploration Committee met in the morning at the Royal Society building.
Present: Hodgson (Chair), Mueller, Wilkie, Macadam, Watson.

It was agreed that the united Committees now be called the Exploration Committee of the Royal Society of Victoria. Stawell was appointed Chairman, Hodgson the Vice-Chair, Wilkie the Treasurer and Macadam the Hon Secretary.

The minutes of the previous meetings having been read and confirmed, Dr Wilkie, the Hon Treasurer of the Society, reported the amount of certain outstanding subscriptions due, and mentioned that the Municipal Council of Williamstown had returned no answer to his application for the £15 voted by them to the Society. In compliance with Dr Wilkie's suggestion, that two auditors be nominated to check the accounts on the motion of Dr Macadam, Mr Francis T Gell and Mr Charles Farewell were appointed to that office.

After some discussion, on the motion of Dr Mueller, Sir William Stawell was elected Chairman and the Hon John Hodgson Vice-Chairman of the Exploration Committee, consisting of (in addition to those gentlemen) Dr Wilkie, Dr Mueller, Dr Macadam and Mr Watson. Dr Wilkie having been appointed treasurer to the Exploration Fund.

Dr Mueller rose to move that a communication be sent to Major Warburton, in Adelaide, inviting him to an early interview with this Committee, in reference to the organisation of the Victorian expedition, and stated that he had great pleasure in bringing forward this resolution. In the first place, all would agree with him that there was no one so fit to advise and consult with on the subject as that gentleman, and in the next place, there was no time to lose. It was necessary at once to appoint a leader, subject to the approval of Her Majesty's Government, who possessed the qualifications requisite for the conduct of the undertaking. In his opinion, there was no one so eminently capable of filling that important post as Major Warburton. There were, he regretted to say, but very few practical explorers left.

The country had sustained a great loss in the deaths of Dr Leichhardt, Sir Thomas Mitchell, and Mr Kennedy. They could not even avail themselves of the services of Captain Sturt, who, afflicted with blindness, was now in England. Then again Mr Ayres had been appointed Governor of St Vincent, and Mr Augustus Gregory had received the reward of his exertions in being appointed Surveyor General of Queensland, whilst his brother, equally talented, was on his way to England. It was therefore necessary to bring a new man into the field. The gentleman he had named he had selected on account of his well known and extensive experience in Australian exploration, and as one who had already done a considerable amount of work in investigating the north west interior.

There were also many other considerations which induced him to recommend Major Warburton. He would instance the unbounded zeal and untiring energy Major Warburton had already displayed in the cause. He was quite ready to start last season from Adelaide, and was willing to undertake the hazardous journey with only two or three troopers. He had already penetrated that country for a considerable distance, and, in addition to the valuable knowledge and experience he had already gained, he had met with no disaster, but judiciously returned before the hot season set in, thereby evincing a praiseworthy caution in conducting the enterprise which entitled him to the confidence of the society It was essential that the leader of such an expedition should be thoroughly a gentleman, also that he should be a rigorous disciplinarian. Now, where could they find those qualities so well combined, in addition to the experience he already possessed, in Major Warburton, who, as Chief Commissioner of Police and as a soldier, was accustomed to direct and to see his orders carried out.

He possessed another, and, if possible, a still greater claim to the position, he had been long accustomed to travel in India with camels, and knew how to conduct an expedition with their aid. And, finally, the great interest he had shown, and the zeal he had at all times evinced for the development of science, proved his fitness to be intrusted with the command of the exploring party About six months ago, he (Dr Mueller) wrote to ask Major Warburton to kindly forward to him some flowers and plants, and his request was at once responded to with the utmost readiness and alacrity. He had not the honour of being personally acquainted with Major Warburton, but would mention that Mr Augustus Gregory had given that gentleman his warmest recommendation for the position.

Captain Cadell, who was personally acquainted with him, had also added the weight of his recommendation.

Dr Macadam, being conscious of the great importance attached to the appointment of a leader to the expedition, with much pleasure seconded the resolution.

Dr Wilkie came to support the resolution, but would suggest that the appointment be delayed for a few days, until after the Committee had consulted with the Chief Secretary on the subject.

Dr Mueller coincided with this opinion, and begged to add the words ‘subject to the approval of the Government’ after the word ‘communication’ in the resolution, which he had inadvertently omitted.

The resolution was then agreed to. Dr Wilkie then moved:

1. That, in accordance with the recommendation of the Royal Society of Victoria, the Exploration Committee have the honour to submit an application to Her Majesty's Government that they will be pleased to entrust the organisation and general direction of the Victorian Expedition for the exploration of the interior to the Exploration Committee, consisting of:

• His Honour Sir William Stawell, Chairman
• Hon John Hodgson, MLC, Vice-Chairman
• Hon David E Wilkie, MD, MLC, Hon Treasurer
• John Macadam, MD, MLA, Hon, Secretary
• Dr Ferdinand Mueller, President of the Royal Society
• C W Ligar Esq, Surveyor General
• Clement Hodgkinson Esq, O.E., Deputy Surveyor-General
• Dr Richard Eades Esq, MD, mayor of Melbourne
• Rev J J Bleasdale, vice-president of the Royal Society
• Dr Iffla, vice-president of the Royal Society
• Angus McMillan Esq MLA
• Professor McCoy
• Professor Neumayer
• James Smith, Esq
• Dr Mackenna
• Sizar Elliott Esq JP
• John Watson Esq JP
• Dr Gilbee

and the Exploration Committee have the honour further to submit that it is of very great importance that immediate measures should be adopted for carrying out the proposed object.

2. That a deputation consisting of the following gentlemen be appointed to wait upon the Hon the Chief Secretary to submit the above resolution, and to give any further information to Her Majesty's Government that may be required. Members of the deputation:

• The Hon John Hodgson, MLC
• Dr Ferdinand Mueller
• Dr Macadam, MLA
• John Watson, Esq, JP
• Hon Dr Wilkie, MLC

These resolutions were agreed to.

Related archive: SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 35. Minutes of the EC meeting, 25 January 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the EC meeting, 25 January 1860

SLV MS13071, Box 2075/2c (Item 3b), RSV EC minutes, 25 January - 14 November 1860. (incomplete and some undated), 51p., ms.

• Partial minutes of a meeting of the EC, undated, but most likely 25 January 1860, 2 pages, different handwriting, but same content.

Thursday, 26 January 1860.
A deputation from the Exploration Committee of the Royal Society, consisting of the Hon John Hodgson; the Hon Dr Wilkie; Dr Macadam; Dr Ferdinand Mueller and John Watson, had an interview in the morning with Chief Secretary Nicholson at the Government Offices.

The deputation having been introduced to Mr Nicholson, Mr Hodgson said that they had waited upon him to submit what had taken place at the meeting of the Committee on the previous day, and in doing so he would hand to him the minutes of the proceedings. At the present time, a sum of over £3,000 had been collected, in addition to the Government grant of £6,000. The Committee had gone very carefully into the consideration of the whole subject, and the document produced would explain to the Chief Secretary their views on the subject of exploration. He would also allude to another matter that had been brought before them, viz., the appointment of a gentleman in charge of the expedition. The matter had been fully considered, and after much inquiry it had been agreed to invite a gentleman, well conversant with the subject, to discuss it with them, provided such a course met with the concurrence of the Government. The gentleman ho alluded to was Major Warburton, of South Australia.

Dr Macadam then read the minutes of the meeting held on the previous day, from which it appeared that a Committee, consisting of certain gentlemen, had been appointed, to whom it was requested the Government would confide the organisation and general direction of the expedition. Mr Hodgson would further submit the matter that he had previously alluded to, viz., the invitation to Major Warburton. It was not to request him to take charge of the expedition; but what they desired was, an expression of opinion on the part of the Government as to their invitation to him to discuss and consider the subject, and whether it deemed him a fit and proper person to refer to.

Mr Nicholson observed that he had read the report of their proceedings in that morning's papers, and also what had been said respecting Major Warburton. He would bring before the Cabinet the Committee's views with regard to the appointment; and he might say that, for his own part, he saw no objection to it. There was nothing so important in the carrying out of their work as their getting the right man, and he was, therefore, the more pleased that they appeared to be so unanimous in their choice. He would like, however, to submit the matter to his colleagues and the Governor, who, he had no doubt, would concur in what had been done. As to their proceeding with the dispatch that they contemplated, he was not quite so sure that it was the right course - it would be better to lose a year than to start in an unprepared state. If they started in March it was quite possible that the camels might not have arrived; and even if they were, animals like those coming from a long voyage, would probably require some time to recruit themselves and got into condition. He only mentioned this as his own opinion, though doubtless the Committee, having paid so much attention to the subject, would be better informed on it than he was. Probably, however, if they had the assistance of Major Warburton, in whom they appeared to have full confidence, they would be advised by him. The Government was very anxious to do all it could to aid them, and trusted that they would meet with every success in their scheme.

Mr Hodgson would observe that Major Warburton was simply invited over here for the purpose of discussing the subject with them before any appointment was made. After they had gone into it together, his appointment would then be a question for the Government and the Committee.

Mr Nicholson thought, from the report that he had read, that the intimation was undoubtedly with the view of finally giving him the command of the expedition.

Dr Mueller was not certain whether the views of the Committee would meet altogether with the approval of the Government; and he might say the same with regard to Major Warburton. It was a difficult thing to draw out a plan in writing and act upon it. It was quite possible that, after communicating with Major Warburton, it might be found that his views were not in accordance with those of the Committee, and that the appointment, if offered to him, might be rejected.

It was also possible that his acceptance of the appointment might cause the loss of the post he at present held in South Australia, and this might induce him to decline. It was desirable, however, as the distance between Melbourne and Adelaide was not very great, that they should have Major Warburton over here, and hear his views on the subject. Even if he rejected the appointment, his visit would still be of the greatest advantage, in enabling them to obtain information from him. He was one of the most experienced men in such matters in these colonies; and in his (the speaker's) humble opinion considerable deference ought to be shown to his views. As to what had been said by the Chief Secretary with regard to the camels, he was quite aware that they might not be here in a month, and even if they were, that they would require some time to get into proper condition; but if their plan met the approval of the Government, and was carried out, a depot would be formed at Cooper's Creek, with which communication could continually be kept up; and if the camels arrived, say in the early part of May, and were not able to start till June, still between that month and September a good deal of work could be done. That was the original plan sketched out by Dr Wilkie.

Mr Nicholson, in speaking on the subject had considerable hesitation, as he had not given the same attention to it that the Committee had; but, he had no doubt that the Government would assent to the arrangement proposed. He would remark, however, that there was no mention of Major Warburton in the document handed to him by Mr Hodgson, and read by Dr Macadam.

Dr Macadam stated that he would forward to the Chief Secretary the resolution arrived at regarding Major Warburton, which merely was 'that it was advisable to invite Major Warburton to a conference respecting the organisation of the expedition, provided such a course met with the concurrence of the Government.'

Mr Nicholson observed that they appeared agreed that he was a suitable person for the appointment, if he could be induced to undertake it,

Mr Watson thought the question of any appointment was still an open one in the Committee. Many of the members were not present yesterday, and it was only fair to them that they should receive a circular, informing them that the appointment was under discussion. Mr Nicholson was of opinion that that would bo a very good course to follow.

Mr Watson said there are other opinions held by scientific gentlemen besides those who were present on Wednesday, as to the party who ought to be appointed, and they ought to be consulted. It would, however, no doubt be of great use to have the benefit of Major Warburton's practical experience and advice, even while they left the appointment an open question.

Dr Macadam said the Committee was completed before Wednesday, and all the gentlemen were requested to attend the meeting. Mr Watson, however, meant that with reference to Major Warburton's appointment, which was not fixed upon on Wednesday, they ought to be consulted.

Mr Nicholson observed that as soon as the arrangements were complete, there would be nothing in the way of the Committee proceeding. The vote for the £6,000 had already passed the House, and could be made available.

Dr Mueller observed that they probably would not require the Government grant just yet. The amount already collected was adequate, for all preliminary expenses, and the £6,000 would very likely not only be sufficient for the purposes of the expedition in 1880, but also for 1861.

Mr Nicholson expressed a hope that they would enter with great care into their financial arrangements, as it was possible that they might find their funds go a shorter way than they imagined.

The Hon the Chief Secretary having again stated that the Government was anxious to give the Committee all the assistance in its power, and hoped that the expedition might be attended with every success, the deputation withdrew.

Monday, 30 January 1860.
Special meeting of the Exploration Committee held in the afternoon.
Present: Hodgson (Chair), Mueller, Gilbee, Wilkie, Cadell, Macadam, Iffla, Smith, Ligar, Watson, Neumayer.

Two hours were spent discussing who the command of the expedition should be entrusted to. A resolution was proposed by Dr Gilbee and seconded by Mr Ligar, and was carried as follows:

That public intimation be given to gentlemen desirous to offer their services as leaders of the Victorian Exploration, and that they be requested to put themselves in communication with the Secretary of the Exploration Committee before the 1st of March of the present year.

It was agreed, also, that a special communication on the subject should be forwarded to Major Warburton, Commissioner of the South Australian Police.

Should the expected camels not arrive so soon as is anticipated, the expedition will set out, and they will be sent on afterwards.

Mueller asked whether Macadam had received any applications for the post of leader. Macadam replied he had received many applications for all posts, but Captain Smith, Inspecting Superintendent of Police had withdrawn his application for leader.

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the special meeting of the EC, 30 January 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 37. Minutes of the special meeting of the EC, 30 January 1860. (3 copies same).

Monday, 13 February 1860.
Related archive: SLV MS13071, Box 2079/3, RSV EC miscellaneous outward correspondence, February-October 1860 and July 1861-November 1872. 126p.

• Letter to Warburton dated 13 February 1860. 1p.

Friday, 2 March 1860.
Meeting of the Exploration Committee.
Present; McMillan (Chair), Eades, Iffla, McKenna, Gilbee, Macadam, Watson, Elliott, Wilkie, Neumayer.

Macadam read a list of applications for leader, 16 names. Only four had exploring experience;

  • Samuel Parry had led two government surveys in South Australia.
  • Baldwin Fraser had served as third in command in Robert Austin's Murchison Expedition.
  • William Lockhart Morton had led a small expedition north of Rockhampton looking for grazing runs.
  • Gustav von Tempsky had explored in the Americas.

Meeting adjourned.

Related archive: SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the meeting of the EC, 2 March 1860.

Monday, 5 March 1860.
The sub-committee of the Exploration Committee met to discuss the leadership of the Expedition.
Present: McMillan (chair), Wilkie, Iffla, Embling, Bleasdale and Neumayer.

The business of the Committee was to solicit several gentlemen from the whole number of candidates for the leadership of the exploring expedition. Five were selected out of the following:

  • Peter Edgerton Warburton
  • John Anthony Layard
  • Thomas Belt
  • Samuel Parry
  • William Lockhart Morton
  • Robert O'Hara Burke
  • Fontomsky [sic: Gustav Ferdinand von Tempsky]
  • Mr Boys
  • Mr Wood
  • John Wood Beilby
  • John Frizzel
  • William Welsh
  • Patrick Maine
  • Thomas Burrs
  • Baldwin Fraser

The decision of the general Committee will be made known on Wednesday.

By Wednesday, the Argus reported;

We are informed that the Exploration Committee have decided to defer then proposed exploring expedition into the interior for three months. The reasons which have influenced the Committee in coming to this determination are;

First, that none of the candidates who have applied for the leadership are in all respects suitable, chiefly through the want of astronomical knowledge;

Secondly, that the season is too far advanced for the starting of the expedition and;

Thirdly, that the camels are not yet arrived.

In the course of three months, one or two of the candidates now applying for the leadership, and in all other aspects eligible, will have learnt, it is hoped, to take 'lunars.' It is proposed that the expedition should, in starting, go no further this season than Cooper's Creek, at which point it could be usefully employed in surveying the country between it and Fort Bourke, up to this time entirely unexplored. At the beginning of next year's rainy season, the expedition will be enabled to start finally for the great unknown interior, accompanied by the camels, which at present are not to be seen for the same reason which made the Spanish fleet invisible - because they are not yet in sight.

Thursday, 8 March 1860.
Adjourned meeting of the Exploration Committee.
Present: Eades (Chair), Mueller, Macadam, McKenna, Watson, Embling, Elliott, Neumayer, Stawell, Wilkie, Gilbee, Hodgkinson.

Business was to debate the leadership. Embling suggested removing Burke, von Tempsky and Fraser from the list of applicants.

Elliott read applications from the five most likely candidates, and the names to be forwarded to the Government were;

  • Tempsky
  • Burke
  • Perry
  • Morton
  • Fraser

It was agreed to delay the decision until a formal offer could be made to Warburton. The Committee also agreed to interview Tempsky.

Meeting adjourned.

Related archive: SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the adjourned meeting of the EC, 8 March 1860.

Friday, 9 March 1860.
Adjourned meeting of the Exploration Committee.
Present: Eades (Chair), Wilkie, Iffla, McKenna, Embling, Elliott, Bleasdale, Macadam, Neumayer, Cadell, Gilbee, Watson, Stawell.

Tempsky was asked a few questions and then left. Elliott suggested he be included in the list of names to be submitted to the Government.

Stawell moved, Wilkie seconded, that the name of Warburton be added to the list to be forwarded to the Government.

Related archive: SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the adjourned meeting of the EC, 9 March 1860.

Sunday, 13 March 1860.
Related archive: SLV MS13071, Box 2079/3, RSV EC miscellaneous outward correspondence, February-October 1860 and July 1861-November 1872. 126p.

• Letter to Chief Secretary [O'Shanassy] dated 13 March 1860.

Easter Sunday, 9 April 1860.

Tuesday, 10 April 1860.
At the annual dinner of the Royal Society of Victoria, held at the Criterion Hotel, Collins-street, the excellent work of the Exploration Committee was mentioned.

Chief Secretary Nicholson said he considered it his duty to say that the Government had the greatest confidence in the Committee of the Royal Society when asking for their advice and assistance in carrying out the great work of of exploration. There were many things to be considered; for instance, it was most important that suitable leaders should be selected, and upon such subjects the society was well qualified to give advice to the Government. He might say, further, that instead of the society having cause to praise the liberality of the Government in placing £6,000 on the Estimates, he felt grateful to them in offering to take up the matter of of exploration and for giving advice.

Monday, 14 May 1860.
Special meeting of the Exploration Committee.
Present: Hodgson (Chair), Embling, Mackenna, Wilkie, Macadam, Elliott, Gilbee.

Special meeting called by Wilkie to discuss dromedaries.

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the special meeting of the EC, 14 May 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 46. Minutes of the special meeting of the EC, 14 May 1860.

Monday, 21 May 1860.
Special meeting of the Exploration Committee.
Present: Stawell (Chair), Eades, Wilkie, Iffla, Mackenna, Macadam, Gilbee, McCoy, Neumayer, Bleasdale, Cadell, Elliott, Hodgkinson, Smith.

Eades moved, Cadell seconded, that Warburton be requested to be leader of the expedition.
Bleadsdale moved, Neumayer seconded, that Burke be leader.

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the special meeting of the EC, 21 May 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 47. Minutes of the special meeting of the EC, 21 May 1860.

Friday, 8 June 1860.
The camels arrived from India and were unloaded on Thursday, 14 June 1860.

Thursday, 14 June 1860.
Members of the Exploration Committee supervised the unloading of the camels at Sandridge at noon, followed by a meeting of the Exploration Committee in the afternoon. There was a full attendance.
Present: Stawell (Chair), Eades, Wilkie, Iffla, Macadam, Mackenna, Gilbee, McCoy, Neumayer, Cadell, Bleasdale, Elliott, Hodgkinson, Smith.

The subject of the expedition was fully discussed.

Eades moved, Cadell seconded, that Warburton be requested to be leader.
Bleasdale moved, Neumayer seconded, Burke as leader, Tempsky as second in command.
Wilkie moved that the decision be postponed until a special meeting, which would be convened at 1 o'clock next Wednesday, and in the interval the applications for leader could be viewed at the hall of the Royal Society.
It was expected that the expedition would set out in six or seven weeks.

Macadam moved, Wilkie seconded, that the camels at Cremorne be purchased for no more than ₤50 each.

Related archive: SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 49. Minutes of the EC meeting, 14 June 1860.

Wednesday, 20 June 1860.
Ordinary meeting of the Exploration Committee, including final leadership ballot. The meeting was very well attended.
Present: Stawell (Chair), Wilkie, Eades, Macadam, Iffla, McCoy, Bleasdale, Embling, Watson, Elliott, Gilbee, Neumayer, Smith, Hodgkinson, Mackenna. Barkly was present.

Eades nominated Warburton, seconded Cadell.
Iffla nominated Tempsky, seconded McCoy.
Bleasdale nominated Burke, seconded Neumayer.

Ballot for leader, Warburton 5 votes, Burke 10 votes, Tempsky 0 votes. Discussion over Burke's ability to take astronomical observations and suggestion that Tempsky be second in command. Neumayer stated Tempsky could not take astronomical observations either. Iffla and Elliot were in favour of Tempsky. McCoy moved that three of four names of candidates for second in command be presented to the Government in concurrence with the leader.

The Exploration Committee of the Royal Society met yesterday at the Society's rooms in Victoria-street, for the purpose of nominating a gentleman as leader of the proposed expedition, whose appointment should be subsequently submitted to the Governor for approval. The attendance was very numerous, and included His Excellency the Governor. The chair was taken by Sir William Stawell. It will be remembered that a delay of nearly three months has taken place in order to enable the Committee to mature their judgement in the matter, and their decision yesterday was to confer the coveted distinction upon Robert O'Hara Burke Esq, superintendent of police in the Castlemaine district. The candidate who was next highest in the poll, was Major Warburton, commissioner of police in South Australia, but we are not informed of the nature of the voting with respect to the other candidates. One thing is certain, and that is, that Mr Burke was elected by a large majority.

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the EC meeting (including leadership ballot), 20 June 1860, signed by Stawell.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 48. Minutes of the EC meeting, 20 June 1860.

Thursday, 28 June 1860.
Ordinary meeting of the Exploration Committee.
Present: Stawell (Chair), McCoy, Neumayer, Wilkie, Iffla, Gilbee, Macadam, Elliott, Watson, Bleasdale (Secretary?), Burke.

Business, 'to confer with the Leader.' Wilkie moved no further business be discussed as the appointment of Leader had not been officially confirmed by the Government. The meeting proceeded however. Gilbee moved a sub-committee of five (quorum of three) plus Burke, be formed to consider applications received to join the expedition. The [employment] sub-committee was McCoy, Neumayer, Cadell, Wilkie, Watson and Burke. Macadam as secretary. This sub-committee met three times between 28 June and 5 July and reported on 9th July.

***
A numerously attended meeting of the Exploration Committee of the Royal Society was held yesterday afternoon, Sir W Stawell presiding, Mr Burke was present.

A sub-committee was appointed to confer with the leader on the arrangements for the expedition, and the details connected with it, and to report at least weekly to the general Committee. The sub-committee consists of Professor Neumayer, Professor McCoy, Captain Cadell, the Hon Dr Wilkie, John Watson Esq, and Dr Macadam, the Hon Secretary. Professor Neumayer will give his special attention to the meteorological, astronomical, and surveying department of the expedition, and he has now, we believe, the instruments to be used brought into thoroughly correct working order. Attached to the expedition will be a gentleman - probably from the Professor's own establishment - thoroughly competent to use those instruments with the utmost effect.

Professor McCoy will take charge of the department of natural history; Captain Cadell will look to the arrangements connected with the transport of stores and river communication generally; Mr Watson will give his care to the practical details connected with the formation and outfit of the party; and the Hon Dr Wilkie and Dr Macadam will advise generally in the business of the expedition.

The party, we understand, will comprise about 25 men, the majority of whom will be selected from upwards of 700 applicants whose names have already been sent in, and from others who will be invited to apply, if so disposed, The remainder of the party will be made up from among the picked bushmen, native and others, whose services have been volunteered through or by various gentlemen who have stations on the Murray and Darling, and who are showing great interest in the expedition.

The leader - whose appointment has not yet been officially confirmed - is desirous of making an immediate start, proposing to recruit the camels by easy stages to the Murray and Darling; and a new bush-road, just surveyed and extending from Keilor to the Darling, will be followed so that the feet of the camels will not be injured by the hardness of the roads at their first start. To a fixed point on the Darling, the great bulk of the stores will be conveyed via Adelaide, by one of Captain Cadell's river steamers, so that the 'ships of the desert' will not be too much burdened at the beginning of the journey. From the Darling, the party will make for Cooper's Creek - the last known ground on the southern side - where a large depot will be formed. From that point to Gregory's farthest south on his expedition from the Gulf of Carpentaria, is 600 miles as the crow flies, and, as far as is known, over a desert of sand. This desert the party will traverse at the first favourable opportunity. These are the plans, and we trust the expedition now about to start - on which so much forethought has been spent - will result in a splendid success.

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Rough minutes of the meeting dated 28/6/60.
• Minutes of the meeting of the EC, 28 June 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 51. Minutes of the EC meeting, 28 June 1860, signed by John J Bleasdale.

Tuesday, 3 July 1860.
[Final] meeting of the [employment] sub-committee. There not being a quorum the meeting was adjourned until 3.00 pm Thursday.

Related archive: SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the meeting of the sub-committee, 3 July 1860.

Wednesday, 4 July 1860.
Burke interviews candidates for expedition.

Thursday, 5 July 1860.
Adjourned [final] meeting of the [employment] sub-committee.
Present: Cadell, McCoy, Macadam and Burke.

Related archive: SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the meeting of the sub-committee, 3 July 1860.

Monday, 9 July 1860.
Ordinary meeting of the Exploration Committee.
Present: Bleasdale (Chair), Burke, Neumayer, McCoy, Embling, McKenna, Elliott, Watson and Macadam.

A letter was received from the Government store-keeper, Richard Nash, inviting the Exploration Committee to attend a meeting on Tuesday, 10 July, to consider placing tenders for the stores.

A report was received from the sub-committee where a list of applicants recommended by Burke was forwarded and a long list of stores. A point of order was made on whether Chief Secretary William Nicholson had given authority to Burke and Government storekeeper Richard Nash to act on certain portions of the list. The Exploration Committee questioned whether they were responsible for the expenditure of the exploration fund.

9 July 1860.
The members of the sub-committee have to report that three meetings have been held. At the last on this day, the leader brought forward a list of members of the party recommended by him and also an extended list of stores. As it appeared however that the Honorable the Chief Secretary has given direct authority to the leader and Government store keeper to act on certain portions of this list without the concurrence of the Exploration Committee having been previously obtained. The sub-committee have the honour to suggest that the postponement of the consideration of this list be deferred until the Hon the Chief Secretary may furnish a dist[?] of written instructions on the point at issue, viz. whether the exploration Committee be responsible for the expenditure of the exploration fund or not, and they beg to suggest that the Hon the Chief Secretary inform them on the matter. 
I have etc.
Profesor Frederick McCoy

McCoy suggested a copy of the list of stores be sent to Mueller for suggestions.

The sum of ₤300 for payment for 6 camels from Cremorne and ₤1, 12s to have them removed to Royal Park.

Burke submitted a list of persons to join the party:

• Landells
• Ferguson
• Fletcher
• Cowan
• Patten
• Langan
• Creber
• Brahe
• Elliott

All were subsequently employed except for Elliott. Burke proposed Wills, Neumayer's senior assistant, as surveyor and astronomer. Burke suggested Beckler as medical officer and several members suggested Becker and artist and naturalist.

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the meeting of the EC, 9 July 1860, signed by Stawell.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 52. Minutes of the EC meeting, 9 July 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2077/5, Exploration Committee outward correspondence November 1857 - December 1860.

• Letter from Government storekeeper Richard Nash to Macadam, re: invitation to a meeting for advertising tenders for stores. Dated 7 July 1860. 2p.
• Letter from McCoy, re: Burke's recommendations for stores. Dated 9 July 1860. 1p.

Friday, 13 July 1860.
Ordinary meeting of the Exploration Committee.
Present: Stawell (Chair), Burke, McCoy, Neumayer, Ligar, Iffla, Mackenna., Macadam, Elliott, McMillan and Watson.

McCoy reported on the meeting of the sub-committee which looked at the list of stores. Some amendments were made to the list and after some discussion, the list of stores, &c, was agreed to.

Drs Becker and Beckler were appointed as officers. Burke asked to employ Creber, Langan and Patten immediately to collect the stores. Several valuable contributions to the material of the party were received, and ordered to be acknowledged.

Mr Landells, who has so successfully brought the camels from India, was appointed second in command. Mr Wills, senior assistant to Professor Neumayer at the Flagstaff Observatory, was appointed astronomer and meteorologist to the expedition. Dr Becker was appointed as naturalist and artist.

A discussion ensued as to the most desirable route to be taken, which is to be resumed at a subsequent meeting. McCoy moved, Ligar seconded, that Burke talk to the master of the SS Chinsurah and ascertain the cost of transporting the expedition by sea to start at Port Augusta or Carpentaria.

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the EC meeting, 13 July 1860, signed by McCoy.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 55. Minutes of the EC meeting, 13 July 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2075/2c (Item 3a), RSV EC minutes, 25 January - 14 November 1860. (incomplete and some undated), 51p., ms.

• Small slip of loose paper with partial minutes of a meeting of the EC, undated, but most likely 13 July 1860, 1p.

Tuesday, 17 July 1860.
Ordinary meeting of the Exploration Committee.
Present: McCoy (Chair), Neumayer, Mueller, Wilkie, Mackenna, Gilbee, Macadam, McMillan, Ligar, Watson, Burke, Landells, Selwyn,

Business: To consider the route.

Macadam and Burke reported that they had met with Nicholson and he had approved of the list of stores.

Burke reported the SS Chinsurah was ₤300 per month and available until October to take the camels to Blunder Bay, but after that the monsoon would set in and it would be unsafe. It would take 6 weeks to reach Blunder Bay.

Landells said that the camels could travel 30 miles a day, 20 miles in difficult country. Some of his animals could go for 80 miles in a day. They would need a fortnight or three weeks to recover when landed at Blunder Bay.

McMillan moved, seconded by Watson that the expedition start from Hobson's Bay and land at Blunder Bay and then make their way to Cooper Creek.

Neumayer thought the season was against starting from Blunder Bay and Wilkie suggested the Royal Society be consulted. Selwyn discussed landing at Port Augusta and moving into Stuart's country. Mackenna suggested a delay. Ligar suggested Kings Sound in Dampier's Land as the landing place to keep the Chinsurah out of the monsoon.

Burke stated that Landells would not join the expedition for less than ₤600 pa. Burke asked to engage Ferguson.

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the EC meeting, 17 July 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 58. Minutes of the EC meeting, 17 July 1860.

Friday, 20 July 1860.
Special meeting of the Exploration Committee.
Present: Ligar (Chair), Stawell, Neumayer, Bleasdale, Mueller, Wilkie, Iffla, Mackenna, Embling, Gilbee, Macadam, Murphy, Smith, Watson, Hodgkinson, Burke, Landells, Selwyn.

Macadam read a letter from Stawell. Stawell moved the minutes of the previous meeting not be tabled as he had not received the summons for the meeting as it had been lost in the Supreme Court. A discussion followed and the meeting was adjourned.

The Exploration Committee of the Royal Society met yesterday afternoon, to re-consider the proposed route for the expedition. The meeting was convened on Wednesday by the Hon Secretary, Dr Macadam, on his being informed that the summons sent to Sir William F Stawell had not reached its destination. C W Ligar Esq, the surveyor-general, presided at the meeting. There were present Mr Burke, the leader and Mr Landells, his second.

Sir Wm F Stawell, in a lengthened speech, proposed that the minutes of the former meeting be not confirmed. Professor Neumayer, and Messrs Embling, Mueller, Selwyn, Watson, Wilkie, and Gilbee addressed the Committee; and, after a conference of several hours, the Committee adjourned the further consideration of the subject until Monday next, at 4 o'clock pm, on the motion of Dr Embling, seconded by Dr Mueller.

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the special meeting of the EC, 20 July 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 61. Minutes of the special meeting of the EC, 20 July 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2075/2c (Item 4), RSV EC minutes, 25 January - 14 November 1860. (incomplete and some undated), 51p., ms.

• Minutes of a special meeting of the EC, 20 July 1860. 4 numbered pages.

Monday, 23 July 1860.
Adjourned special meeting of the Exploration Committee, including meeting of the sub-committee.
Present: Ligar (Chair), Stawell, Hodgson, Wilkie, Iffla, Watson, Burke, Selwyn, Mueller, Embling, Neumayer, Macadam, Smith, Gilbee, Bleasdale, Mackenna.

Business: To determine the route of the expedition. Embling supported Blunder Bay or Port Augusta rather than Cooper Creek. Wilkie preferred a leisurely survey to Cooper Creek. Gilbee favoured the northern route. Iffla said the Royal Society preferred Cooper Creek and it would be better for the camels rather than the long sea voyage. Mueller retracted his support for Blunder Bay and proposed Cooper Creek. He mentioned the settlements in South Australia near Lake Torrens as a safe retreat from Cooper Creek. Smith moved expedition should start in the south and head north, but there was no seconder. Neumayer supported Port Augusta as the shortest route and he was supported by Selwyn. Hodgson questioned Landells on the ability of the camels to undertake the sea voyage and then a journey of 800 miles and Landells replied he had no doubts to their ability. Elliott supported the northern route. Bleasdale supported Cooper Creek.

Stawell moved, Smith seconded, that 'the expedition be sent to Cooper's Creek by easy stages' - Carried by a majority of 5 (14 votes for to 9 against).

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the adjourned special meeting of the EC, 23 July 1860, signed by Stawell.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 63. Minutes of the EC [adjourned] special meeting, 23 July 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2075/2c (Item 5), RSV EC minutes, 25 January - 14 November 1860. (incomplete and some undated), 51p., ms.

• Partial minutes of a meeting of the subCommittee, 23 July [1860], 1p. and minutes of the adjourned meeting of the EC, 23 July 1860. 4 numbered pages, with one additional pages of rough notes [by Stawell].

THE Exploration Committee af Victoria have lately had an animated debate on the question of the route to be taken by the next expedition. The camels have arrived and recovered from the effects of their voyage; the party has been organised, and its leader appointed. Every thing is ready for the journey, when suddenly it is discovered that there is great difference of opinion as to what point to start from.

The contending parties may be said to have divided themselves into three sections one advocating Cooper's Creek, another Port Augusta, and a third, somewhat ominously, giving their voices for Blunder Bay. No doubt a very serious responsibility attaches to the decision. Not only the success of the expedition, but the safety of the persons composing it, may depend upon the choice. There is therefore some excuse for the long deliberation and the warm discussions to which the question has given rise; but it is certainly to be regretted, and is calculated to diminish alike the confidence of the party and of the public, that the decision apparently arrived at has not the authority of a unanimous vote to rest upon, instead of the more doubtful approbation of a mere majority in a division.

"It seems to me,"' said Sir William Stawell, "that we are fated to do nothing at all; and at every meeting I grow more desponding, from the extreme dilatoriness of our proceedings. It is a strange anomaly, but not more strange than true, that in this country of bush adventures, exploration seems to be unsuited to the genius of the people. If New Holland had been for the last seventy years in the hands of the Americans, would the centre of the continent be still a terra incognita? It is far more likely that by this time we should have had speculators projecting a railway from the River Darling to Shark's Bay. Our explorers in general content themselves when they have, accidentally mayhap, stumbled upon a good tract of pastoral country, well grassed and watered. They prefer writing their initials in large characters on numerous wool bales, to seeing them inscribed on the roll which immortalises PARKE, and BRUCE, and LEICHHARDT. Mr De Rinzy, indeed, seems to have been imbued with the true spirit of discovery; but his health broke down on the very verge of the land of promise. Mr Stuart also has made a bold bid for a niche in the temple of fame. What these gentlemen have already succeded in effecting is sufficient to afford great encouragement, and promises to lead to a refutation of the stereotyped official faith on the subject, that "all is barren."

The objections, of certain members of the Exploration Committee to the Blunder Bay route, were supported on various grounds. This route had been previously decided upon by the Committee; but on the 23rd of July another meeting was held in the Royal Society's Institute at Melbourne, for the purpose of re-considering the decision. The insecurity of Blunder Bay as a harbour was insisted upon as a valid reason against stationing a vessel there; while, without such a provision, the party would have to travel 2,500 miles to the eastward or 2,000 miles to the westward, before, they could procure any aid: the difficulty of transporting the camels so far by sea, and the great cost of maintaining a vessel to wait upon the party with supplies, were further objections. On the other hand, it was contended that an overland journey to Cooper's Creek would involve unnecessary preliminary demand upon the strength of the camels, and of the party; while neither that creek, nor the Thomson or Alice Rivers could be relied on for a permanent supply of water. The route by Spenser's Gulf, from Port Augusts, was warmly advocated by some. An exploring party starting from that point would not, it was said, be merely following on Sturt's tracks, but would strike right across New Holland. A sea passage of two days and a half could land the expedition at Port Augusta, and the party would travel some hundreds of miles before they got out of the tracks of civilisation. By shaping a course for Sharks Bay, "they would pass through an unexplored country, where fine sheets of water were known to exist; and finally, by describing another segment of a circle, they would return into South Australia." This route, however, like that by Blunder Bay, was open to the silly objection that it took the expedition out of the colony. "The expedition was a Victorian enterprise, and, as such, should start from Victorian territory." This narrow minded argument was deserved ridiculed by some of the speakers. The opinion of Professor Neumayer is worthy of attention.

As to the distances by the various routes, he had made a calculation which showed that from Melbourne to Gregory's farthest point waa 1414 miles. By Cooper's Creek to Gregory's farthest, the distance was 1,707 miles, whilst from Port Augusta to the same point, the distance was 1584; allowance being made in each case of 12% for curvature. The distance from Melbourne to Cooper's Creek was 774; from Cooper's Creek to the furthest of Start was 228; and across the desert from Sturt's furthest to Gregory's furthest was 705 miles. From Port Augusta to the furthest of Stuart was 348 miles; and from Stuart's farthest to Gregory's furthest, 654 miles.

With respect to the opinion of Mr Gregory, as quoted by Mr Smith, it was entitled to every respect; but had the writer known a little more of Stuart's discoveries, be might haye rectified his views. He thought we should economise our energies by taking the camels to Port Augusta instead of sending them 774 miles, and bringing them but very little nearer to the scene of their labours. Their principal object was to explore the interior in an efficient a manner as possible, and they should avail of every means for this purpose. He proposed that the expedition start from Port Augusta, and proceed forward to Gregory's furthest. As to the objection to proceeding from another colony, such considerations were altogether unworthy of men engaged in so great a project. Victoria would be the leading colony in exploration, and this was sufficient for them to know.

The meeting, however, seemed to be of a different opinion for, after a long and rather warm discussion, the resolution of the previous meeting was virtually rescinded by the adoption of a motion in favour of starting from Cooper's Creek. Thus the matter rested up to the beginning of last week. We have not yet heard whether any further changes have come over the minds of the Committee.

With reference to the powers of endurance of the camels, Mr Landells, who has charge of those animals, expressed the strongest confidence; and, at the same time, he made a very sensible suggestion, as to giving them fair play before those powers were put to the test:

They would beat any horses in a desert without water or grass, and subsisting only on shrubs or bush. He had no objection to keeping a hundred miles in advance of the expedition to ascertain whether there was water. The camels could get over a desert but not, perhaps, over mountains or rocks, as they were not pigeons or provided with wings. But he would say "land them in good condition, and do not bring them to their work at once." In India, horses landed from Australia were allowed twelve months to recruit before being put to guns or handed over to the troopers, and he thought the camels here should have a rest also. They eat the gum branches and wattles; and seemed to be quite happy when they ware out, but he could not say whether this food would fatten them. They should be a little acclimatised.

It was very properly observed, in the course of the discussion, that the notions of exploration entertained by some people contemplated merely a flying visit across country, with sufficient food and water on camels' backs to take the party out and home again; whereas an efficient exploration, and such as was contemplated by the Royal Sooiety, would occupy three years, commencing from a base of operations from which news of the progress of the exploration could from time to time be transmitted to Melbourne. The answer to this, however, was that sufficient funds were not available for so extended a survey. It is, nevertheless, highly desirable that a medium course should be adopted, and that, while due regard is paid to the safety of the expedition and to the funds in hand, every effort should be made to add useful and practical information to our present slender knowledge of Australian geography.

Friday, 27 July 1860.
Special meeting of the Exploration Committee.
Present: Stawell (Chair), Wilkie, Mackenna., Gilbee, Macadam, Selwyn, Elliott, Ligar, Watson, Neumayer, Burke.

Business: To consider and fix the day for starting.
There was a discussion on the effects of the cold weather on the camels.
Burke advised that the provisions would be ready by the 15th of August.
Ligar moved, Watson seconded, that the expedition start on Monday 20th August - Carried.
There was a discussion on the appointment of the second in command. Wilkie moved, Ligar seconded, that Landells be engaged at ₤50 month to proceed to and from the Darling.

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the special meeting of the EC, 27 July 1860, signed by Stawell.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 65. Minutes of the EC special meeting, 27 July 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2075/2c (Item 6), RSV EC minutes, 25 January - 14 November 1860. (incomplete and some undated), 51p., ms.

• Minutes of the special meeting of the EC, 27 July 1860. 1p.

Wednesday, 1 August 1860.
Ordinary meeting of the Exploration Committee, held in the hall of the Royal Society.
Present: Stawell (Chair), Wilkie, Iffla, Mackenna., Smith, Watson, Elliott, Burke.
Apologies from Macadam who was detained by Parliamentary duties.

Discussion on the appointment of Landells. Stawell had discussed the matter with Macadam and thought it was advisable to engage Landells. The fact that Landells' salary was ₤100 pa. greater than the Leaders' was discussed and Burke said that as his salary had been fixed by the Government it should be left at ₤500. A letter was drafted to Landells engaging his services.

The business, which was of a private nature, related to some difficulty that had arisen in respect to the salary of Mr Landells, the second-in-command. It appears that the salary demanded by him is somewhat in excess of that paid by the Government to Mr Burke, the leader of the expedition, and it was felt that to accede to the request would be to place Mr Burke in an equivocal position as regards his subordinate. Mr Burke, however, very generously waived this point, and declined to allow a motion for the increase of his own salary to bo discussed. He also expressed great anxiety to have the co-operation of Mr Landells, and, after some discussion, it was unanimously agreed that that gentleman's offer should be accepted.

The expedition will be ready to start on the 20th inst.

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the EC ordinary meeting, 1 August 1860, signed by Wilkie.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 67. Minutes of the EC ordinary meeting, 1 August 1860, including draft of letter to Landells.

SLV MS13071, Box 2075/2c (Item 7), RSV EC minutes, 25 January - 14 November 1860. (incomplete and some undated), 51p., ms.

• Minutes of an ordinary meeting of the EC, 1 August 1860. 1p

Parliamentary business: Legislative Assembly

Dr Embling will call the attention of the Government to the progress of the measures relative to the Exploration Expedition, and to to ask:

1. If the Government does not deem it as absolute neccesity that a legally-qualified medical man should accompany the party; and if so, will the Governrment undertako that an officer of this description shall go with the expedition ?

2. If the Government, recognizing the severities of hardship and peril to be encountered, will insist that, as in enlistments into the army, so in this case the proposed members of the exploring party shall be submitted to a careful examination, and be medically certified of their physical qualifications for their duties.

3. If the Govornmont (the Exploration Committee being greatly divided on the subject) propose accepting Cooper's Creek as the point of departure, or if the Government intend seeklng further guidance thereupon from sources independent (if it should appear expedient) of the Royal Society, several points of departure having been canvassed, and one, Port Augusta, having only been rejected by a majority of two votes in the Committee and whether the Government will lay the papers connected with this subject, and also those referring to the importation of the camels, on the table of the House at as early a day as possible?

In answer to questions from Dr Embling who contended that Cooper's Creek was not, but that Port Augusta was, the proper point from which the exploring expedition should start, and that the north-west coast, and not the Gulf of Carpentaria, was the point which the expedition should endeavour to reach.

Mr Nicholson stated that Dr Beckler had being appointed to accompany the expedition; that the members of the party would be required to submit themselves to medical examination; and that it was not the intention of the Government to set aside or interfere with the decision of the Royal Society as to the route of the expedition. Mr Embling was a member of the Royal Society, and he thought he had taken an unfair advantage of the House in bringing the question before it in the manner in which he had brought it. If he desired to have the route changed, he should place a distinct resolution on the table.

Dr Macadam complained of the irregular attendance of Mr Embling at the meetings of the Royal Society. If he had attended the recent meetings he would not have required to ask the first two questions. That Honorable Member had abundance of opportunities to advance his opinions in the society. The subject of the route had been fully discussed, and the Cooper's Creek route had been ultimately decided on. It would be unwise to interfere now with the decision, as the preparations had been made to a large extent on the strength of that decision, and the leaders of the expedition were satisfied.

Mr Snodgrass regretted that a substantive resolution had not been brought forward. He was in favour of the Blunder Bay route.

Mr King would have been extremely happy to consent to the departure of Mr Embling himself, as the legally-qualified medical officer of the expedition, that the camels might have the benefit of his parental care - and the House be saved from his long and unnecessary speeches.

Mr Embling then gave notice that he would, to-morrow, move a resolution in favour of Victoria River, North, as the point of departure of the expedition.

Friday, 10 August 1860.
Ordinary meeting of the Exploration Committee.
Present: Wilkie (Chair), Macadam, Embling, Gilbee, Mackenna, Selwyn, Elliott, (Burke and Nash).

Macadam stated Landells had accepted the position.

Gilbee read the medical report stating all five officers and ten men on the expedition had undergone a medical examination and were free from disease and physical defect.

A supplementary list of supplies including 24 oilcloth coverings for the camels and 10 gallons of brandy was considered.

There was a discussion of how to transport the stores to Cooper Creek. Nash suggested the cheapest way was Cadell's offer to transport the supplies by paddle-steamer to the junction of the Murray and Darling. Burke objected strongly to Cadell being involved. Selwyn moved, Embling seconded, that Macadam contact Cadell as to his terms of transport.

Embling moved, Selwyn seconded, Nash's suggestion to write to NSW and SA to have a remission of customs duties on the stores.

Burke asked that the sepoys wages be increased from 1s a day to 2s. He also asked that Ferguson be considered a petty officer and his salary be ₤200 pa.

A sub-committee of Mueller, Neumayer, McCoy and Selwyn was appointed to draw up the instructions for the scientific officers. A sub-committee of Gilbee, Wilkie and Macadam was appointed to draw up the general instructions.

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the EC ordinary meeting, 10 August 1860, signed by Stawell.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 69. Minutes of the EC ordinary meeting, 10 August 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2075/2c (Item 8), RSV EC minutes, 25 January - 14 November 1860. (incomplete and some undated), 51p., ms.

• Incomplete minutes of a meeting of the EC, 10 August 1860, including several copies of the medical certificate issued by Dr Gilbee, dated 9 August 1860. 5p.

Wednesday, 15 August 1860.
Ordinary meeting of the Exploration Committee.
Present: Stawell (Chair), Eades, Wilkie, Gilbee, Mackenna., Embling, Ligar, Selwyn, Elliott, Burke.

Business: To consider and arrange the general letter of instructions and to arrange sundry details for the departure.

Memorandum of Agreement as drawn up by Stawell was read.

The letter of instruction was discussed, but there wasn't a draft to table.

Landells requested an advance of ₤100.

Landells request to take another sepoy was referred to Burke, who had full power to use his discretion.

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the EC meeting, 15 August 1860, signed by Stawell.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 72-3. Minutes of the EC ordinary meeting, 15 August 1860.
• p. 74. Crossed out partial minutes of the EC ordinary meeting, 15 August 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2075/2c (Item 9), RSV EC minutes, 25 January - 14 November 1860. (incomplete and some undated), 51p., ms.

• Minutes of a meeting of the EC, 15 August 1860. 4p.

Thursday, 16 August 1860.
Ordinary meeting of the Exploration Committee, held at 4.00 pm at the Royal Society hall.
Present:Stawell (Chair), Ligar, Selwyn, Cadell, Burke, Eades, Macadam, Wilkie, McCoy, Gilbee

Business: To consider the general letter of instructions prepared by Ligar and to settle Sunday's details.

An extensive discussion was held over the letter of instruction. Letters were written to Neumayer and Mueller requesting the letters of instruction they were drafting.

Burke requested a cheque book, drawn on the treasury, rather than carry money. A cheque book was ordered.

Macadam laid on the table a telescope promised by Mr Verdon and presented by Messrs Brush and McDonald as their contribution to the expedition.

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the EC meeting, 16 August 1860, signed by Stawell.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 75. Minutes of the EC ordinary meeting, 16 August 1860.

Saturday, 18 August 1860.
Ordinary meeting [or Special meeting; see Box 2075/2c] of the Exploration Committee.
Present: Stawell (Chair), Bleasdale, Eades, Gilbee, Macadam , Embling, Neumayer, McCoy, Ligar, Selwyn, Elliott, Watson.

Letters of Instruction to scientific officers read and adopted.

Bleasdale moved, Embling seconded, that three female camels and one male camel belonging to the Committee be left at Royal Park and a sepoy should be left in charge of them with pay and rations and the Government should take charge of the camels - Carried.

Selwyn moved, Ligar seconded, that Wills have an assistant surveyor appointed at the rate of ₤120 pa. - Carried.

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the EC meeting, 18 August 1860, signed by Stawell.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 77. Minutes of the EC meeting, 18 August 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2075/2c, RSV EC minutes, 25 January - 14 November 1860. (incomplete and some undated), 51p., ms.

• Item 10b, Minutes of a special meeting of the RSV, 18 August 1860. 3p
• Item 13, Copy of leader’s instructions, 18 August 1860. 6p.

A Special General Meeting of the Royal Society was held at 1.00 pm at the Society's hall to take leave of the expedition. Vice-President, Dr Eades, was in the chair.

The deep interest taken in the expedition was evidenced by the large attendance of members and others. Among those present were Dr Eades, mayor of Melbourne; Sir William Stawell, Mr O'Shanassy, Mr Ligar, Dr Gilbee, Mr Ireland, Dr Mackenna, Mr Stephen, MLA; Dr Macadam, Mr Watson, and others. It was subject of remark, that there was not a single member of the Government present.

Punctually at 1 o'clock, the chair was taken by Dr Eades, and immediately afterwards, Mr Morton read his paper, in a tone that rendered it all but inaudible to those present. A vote of thanks having been passed to him, the real business of the day was commenced by Mr Burke, the leader of the expedition, saying, 'Members of the expedition party fall in here,' on which the whole party, numbering 15, walked up the room, and drew up in order at the back of the president's chair. The men presented a very fine appearance, and were the objects of general interest and admiration.

Dr Macadam, secretary of the society, then read over the memorandum of agreement entered into between Mr Wilkie, as treasurer of the society, and the members of the party, by which they bound themselves implicitly to obey the orders of their leader.

The agreement having been read over, Sir William Stawell addressed the party with a farewell speech. The members of the expedition were then called up to sign the agreement, commencing with Mr Landells. They all came up and signed in the most resolute manner, and without a word, except in the case of Charles Ferguson, who appeared very much excited, and entered into an apparently animated conversation with his Honour the Chief Justice. It was understood Ferguson was seeking to ascertain in what manner the half salary would be paid to his child, in the event of the party not being able to communicate with the society; but at length, striking the table with his hand, he said, 'Well, if I never get a penny, I'll go.' He then put his signature to the document.

Dr Eades then, on behalf of the Committee and the citizens at large, took leave of the party, wishing them 'God speed' on their expedition (Cheers). Three cheers having been given for the party, and for Mr, Burke, the meeting separated.

Wednesday, 22 August 1860.
Ordinary meeting of the Exploration Committee.
Present: Stawell (chair), Bleasdale, Cadell, Ligar, Elliott, Eades, Iffla, Mackenna., Gilbee.

Business: To consider and arrange for having the leader of the Exploring Expedition appointed a magistrate of the several Australian colonies.

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the EC meeting, 22 August 1860, signed by Embling.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 78. Minutes of the EC meeting, 22 August 1860, signed by Embling.

Monday, 27 August 1860.
An ordinary meeting of the Royal Society was held at half-past 7 o'clock in the Society's house.
Governor Barkly in the chair.

Dr Macadam read a telegram from Mr Burke dated Mia Mia, via Heathcote, 26th August, to the following effect, viz:

Mia Mia, via Heathcote, 26th August.
The exploring party
arrived here last night. We halt to-day (Sunday), and proceed on to-morrow. All well. The roads very bad. Fuller report forwarded by post to-day.
R. O'HARA BURKE, Leader.

He might mention that Mia Mia was about six miles from Heathcote, and 100 [miles] from Melbourne. The fuller report to which Mr Burke had alluded he was sending by post had not yet arrived, but he expected it in the course of the following day. It would be gratifying to the society to know, that notwithstanding all the difficulties attendant on the start of the expedition, it had, since leaving Essendon on Tuesday morning, been proceeding at the rate of 20 miles a day (Hear, hear). The party were taking the old bush road, and intended to move westerly to Swan Hill. He might also mention that he had that day seen a gentleman who met the party on Friday last, who informed him that it was moving forward steadily, and in the most perfect order (Applause).

Monday, 3 September 1860.
Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/5, RSV EC outward correspondence August 1860 to July 1869.

• Letter to Burke dated 3rd September 1860 enclosing instructions and National Bank cheque book.

SLV MS13071, Box 2079/3, RSV EC miscellaneous outward correspondence, February-October 1860 and July 1861-November 1872. 126p.

• Copy of letter to Burke dated 3 September 1860. 3p.

Wednesday, 5 September 1860.
Ordinary meeting of the Exploration Committee.
Present: Stawell (chair), Wilkie, Eades, Macadam, Elliott.

The Treasurer, Wilkie, was authorised to expend a sum not exceeding £5 on books bearing on the exploration of Australia, to include Gregory (both brothers), Sturt, Leichhardt and Mitchell, for the use of the exploring party.

The Secretary read Dr Becker's letter (from Terrick Terrick, dated 31 August 1860).

It was decided to pay half of Mr Hodgkinson's coach fare to Swan Hill, £3-7-6.

Related archive: SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the EC meeting, 5 September 1860, signed by Stawell.

Thursday, 6 September 1860.
Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/5, RSV EC outward correspondence August 1860 to July 1869.

• Letter to Burke dated 6 September 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 81. Minutes of the EC meeting, 5 September 1860.

Monday, 10 September 1860.
Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/5, RSV EC outward correspondence August 1860 to July 1869.

• Letter to Burke dated 10 September 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2079/3, RSV EC miscellaneous outward correspondence, February-October 1860 and July 1861-November 1872. 126p.

• Copy of letter to Burke dated 10 September 1860. 3p.

Monday, 17 September 1860.
The ordinary meeting of the Royal Society of Victoria was held in the society's house, Victoria-street, at 7 o'clock.
In the absence of His Excellency the Governor, the chair was taken by the mayor, Dr Eades.

Dr Macadam, Hon Secretary, laid on the table three snakes presented by Dr Sommaur [sic: Gummow], Swan Hill, transmitted by Dr Becker.

Dr Macadam then stated that he had had several communications from Mr Burke, the leader of the exploring expedition, from which it appeared that the party left Swan Hill on the 11th inst., and were then supposed to be at Balranald, about 50 miles on the other side of the River Murray. From that place it was the intention of Mr Burke to push on at once for the first main depot of the expedition, on the River Darling. It was expected that spot - which was 300 miles from Melbourne - would be reached by that day week. Hitherto, the expedition had progressed most favourably. There had not been the slightest accident to either man or beast, and Mr Burke stated that he was most highly pleased with both the officers and men under his charge, and that the greatest harmony and unanimity existed among them.

Mr Burke had engaged the drays that accompanied the party to convey the baggage further than Swan Hill, as the party were unanimously of opinion that it was most desirable to push on as rapidly as possible, in order to reach Cooper's Creek this year, which it was feared they would not be able to do it the warm weather set in before they had advanced a considerable distance It was at first supposed that the party should proceed to the junction of the Murray and the Darling, with the view of receiving stores via Adelaide. It had subsequently, however, been considered more advisable to proceed direct for the station upon the Darling, thus cutting off the whole angle of the Junction, and greatly lessening the distance.

A diary of the whole of the proceedings of the party since it left Melbourne had been received from Dr Becker, together with four sketches [sic. - should have been five sketches]:

  © La Trobe Collection, State Library of Victoria - www.slv.vic.gov.au 1. The first was one of the party crossing an ancient crater, near Dr Bainton's.
  © La Trobe Collection, State Library of Victoria - www.slv.vic.gov.au 2. The second was a sketch of the party crossing to Terrick Terrick from the 29th August.
  © La Trobe Collection, State Library of Victoria - www.slv.vic.gov.au 3. The third sketch was peculiarly interesting, representing, as it did, the effect of a mirage, by which Mount Hope, distant 25 miles, appeared to be in mid-air far above the horizon.
  © La Trobe Collection, State Library of Victoria - www.slv.vic.gov.au 4. [Becker actually sent five sketches, the fourth being from the top of Mount Hope].
  © La Trobe Collection, State Library of Victoria - www.slv.vic.gov.au 5. The 'fourth' represented the station-hut at Mount Hope, September 2.

Related archives:
SLV MS13017 Box 2084/3j: List of articles and services…supplied…by the Government storekeeper on account of the VEE. Signed by Robert Nash, government storekeeper and dated 17 September 1861. 13p.

SLV MS13071, Dispatches sent to Burke by the RSV EC, Box 2082/2a (1-6):
Dispatches sent to Burke, dated Melbourne 17 September 1860. 21p.

• Letter to Landells from his wife, E R Landells, dated 17 September 1860. 3p.
• Memorandum to Landells from Macadam. 1p.
• Memorandum to Dr Becker from Macadam. 1p.
• Letter to Wills from Richard Birnie, dated 14 September 1860. 5p.
• Notice of RSV meeting to be held on 17 September 1860 where it was intended to read communications received from the expedition and also exhibit Becker's sketches. 1p.
• Letter to Burke from William Christie requesting to join the expedition, dated 7? September 1860. 7p.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/5, RSV EC outward correspondence August 1860 to July 1869.

• Letter to Burke dated 17 September 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2079/3, RSV EC miscellaneous outward correspondence, February-October 1860 and July 1861-November 1872. 126p.

• Letter to Burke dated 17 September 1860. 3p.

Wednesday, 19 September 1860.
Ordinary meeting of the Exploration Committee, including special report of the sub-committee.
Present: Embling (chair), Stawell, Macadam, Gilbee, Mackenna., Cadell and Elliott.

The Secretary tabled despatches from Burke and Becker.
A sub-committee consisting of Elliott and Macadam report on the financial position of the exploration fund.

The Secretary tabled a letter regarding the lascars and another one from Ligar requesting their passage back to India be paid.

The meeting adjourned to the 22 September.

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the EC meeting, 19 September 1860, signed by Stawell.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 83. Minutes of the EC meeting, 19 September 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2075/2c (Item 11), RSV EC minutes, 25 January - 14 November 1860. (incomplete and some undated), 51p., ms.

• Minutes of a meeting of the EC, including special report of subCommittee, 19 September 1860. 6p

Thursday, 20 September 1860.
Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/5, RSV EC outward correspondence August 1860 to July 1869.

• Letter to Burke dated 20 September 1860.
• Letter to MacLelan & Taylor dated 20 September 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2079/3, RSV EC miscellaneous outward correspondence, February-October 1860 and July 1861-November 1872. 126p.

• Letter to Burke dated 20 September 1860. 3p.

Saturday, 22 September 1860.
Adjourned meeting of the Exploration Committee.
Present: Stawell (chair), Wilkie, Macadam, Mackenna., Elliott.

The sub-committee reported that the exploration fund stood at £800, which was sufficient to pay salaries to 1st January 1861. They also recommended that a delegation consisting of Stawell, Wilkie, Eades, Embling, McMillan and Ligar, meet the Chief Secretary [O'Shanassy] to ask him to place £6,000 on the estimates for 1861 in order to cover wages (£4,070), stores and freight( £1,500) and contingencies (£430).

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the adjourned EC meeting, 22 September 1860, signed by Stawell.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 85. Minutes of the EC adjourned meeting, 22 September 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2075/2c (Item 12), RSV EC minutes, 25 January - 14 November 1860. (incomplete and some undated), 51p., ms.

• Minutes of an adjourned meeting of the EC, 22 September 1860. 4p.

Monday, 8 October 1860.
Ordinary monthly meeting of the Royal Society of Victoria was held in the society's house, Victoria-street.
In the absence of His Excellency Sir Henry Barkly, the chair was taken at 8 o'olock by the vice-president of the society, Dr Eades, mayor of Melbourne.

Dr Macadam laid the following contributions on the table, viz:- A cabinet of fossils, shells, &c. and a glass case of fossils, &c.; several small cases of curiosities, drawings, books, bottles with specimens of natural history, &c being the contents of Dr Becker's museum, presented by subscription.

Dr Macadam said, for the last eight or ten days no communication had been received from the exploration party, and, therefore, the amount of information he had to give the society was very slight. The last communication from Mr Burke was dated the 19th September, from Parka, on the Murrumbidgee River.

It thus appeared the party had three stages - first to Swan Hill, next from Swan Hill to Balranald, and then to Meninda. He might observe that Professor Neumayer, who accompanied the party to Swan Hill, was expected in town in eight or ten days, and doubtless the society would be favoured by him with a full account of the proceedings of the party to that place (Hear, hear).

Mr Aplin wished to know if the Hon Secretary was in a position to give the society any information with regard to the return of some members of the exploring party, as it was generally stated some of them had returned to Melbourne.

Dr Macadam said he had very little information to give on the subject. He might state, however, that, taking the names of those who joined the party in Melbourne, and signed the original agreement, there were but three cases of separation from the party (Hear, hear). He was aware the numbers of those who had left had been exaggerated in some of the papers, but it should be borne in mind that men had bean engaged for special work and for short stages up the country. Of the three men who belonged to the original party, and who had left, one was dismissed for a reason known to the Committee, but which it was not necessary to make public. In respect to the other two-Ferguson, and a man, he believed called Langan - the only information he possessed with regard to them was the simple circumstance of their being separated from the party. There was no reason assigned for their separation, nor any misconduct attributed to them, but cheques had been simply drawn for their pay. It had been stated in the press that the Committee had instructed Mr Burke to reduce the party, on the ground of expense. Recollecting the fact that Mr Stuart had to return from want of men, he thought it was necessary, and would be desirable, to read to the society, an abstract from a letter which had been sent to Mr Burke - the only one connected with finance that had been sent, and from which it would at once be apparent that no instructions for the reduction of the party had been sent to Mr Burke (Hear, hear). The circumstances under which the letter was sent were these: A large amount of expenditure had been incurred, and an account came from the Government storekeeper, amounting to over £4,000. When the Committee found that Mr Burke was using hired carriage to a large extent, they considered it advisable, to give him a hint, and suggested it would be as well to do without hired carriage beyond the Darling. Mr Burke at that time was carrying 18 tons of flour, which, for a long distance, at £7 or £8 a ton, would soon run up to a large amount. Mr Burke gave the following explanation: [Burke's despatch]

Blue Background

The Camp, Swan Hill,
September 10, 1860.

I have made arrangements with the draymen for conveying on the stores to the Darling, 18 tons, at the rate of £8 per ton from here to Balranald, and £8 per ton from Balranald to the Darling; and I consider it absolutely necessary to make this arrangement, notwithstanding my being in possession of the resolution of the Committee objecting to the transfer of the stores by hired assistance, for the following reasons, viz: The resolution of the Committee, though an expression of opinion, did not amount to a positive order. If I had lost this opportunity of conveying on the stores, it would have retarded the progress of the expedition, and might prove fatal to it. It would be impossible for us to move them without assistance. Within the next month or six weeks the road will be impracticable for drays, for want of food and water, and will continue so, in all probability, for the next eight or ten months. I called a meeting of the officers of the expedition, and they were unanimously of my opinion, that it would be dangerous to the undertaking to adopt any other course. I am well aware that our baggage is too cumbersome, and that a time will, I hope, soon come when we shall be obliged to leave the greater part of it behind us, but to do so now before having established our depot upon the Darling, where every article may be of the greatest service, would, I think, be a most injudicious proceeding.

 
     

In reply to that letter, the Committee sent the following despatch:

Blue Background

Royal Society of Victoria, Melbourne.
September 20, 1860.

Sir,
Your despatches of date the 8th, 10th, and 12th inst, were read at a meeting of Committee held yesterday.

That of the 10th, stating your reasons for departing from the resolution of the Committee in reference to the transport of stores to the Darling, via Balranald, was especially considered. The Committee decided that your reasons for so doing were well founded, and instructed me, at the same time, to state to you that so large an additional expenditure was to be much regretted.

The Committee has been called upon to supply the colonial storekeeper with no less a sum than £1,500 sterling to supplement £3,000 originally intended to cover all expenses of outfit. This claim, with the numerous cheques now being presented to the bank for payment of current expenses incurred by the party during its march, will soon exhaust the available means at the disposal of the Committee.

The members of the Committee have every confidence that all unavoidable expenses for the successful prosecution of this great national undertaking will be cheerfully paid by the Legislature. But it is nevertheless the desire of the Committee to keep the expenditure within the amount voted for the purpose from time to time.

A sub-committee has been appointed to inquire into our financial condition, and to report on the same at a special meeting to be held on Saturday. In the meantime, I feel confident that it is only necessary to bring the matter under your notice in order to insure the greatest economy in carrying out the objects of the expedition consistent with the safety of the party and the success of the expedition.

 
     

It would be for the members to judge whether the statement - if at all made by Mr Burke, which he very much questioned (hear) - that special instructions had been given to reduce the party, was at all borne out by that letter (hear). He had no doubt an explanation would be forthcoming at the proper period; but; in the mean time, it was only fair to Mr Burke that members should not come to any conclusion until Mr Burke was in a position to make his reply (Hear, hear).

There was just one other subject he wished to refer to. One of the persons who returned brought forward a statement that a cheque drawn by the Committee had been dishonoured - a statement which had been freely circulated in certain papers, with a view, doubtless, of injuring the expedition. The facts were simply these - when the expedition started, a sum of money was placed to Mr Burke's credit in the bank, against which he was to draw for small amounts Unfortunately, it turned out that their squatting friends up the country did not prove so generous as had been anticipated, the fact being, that, except in three places, Mr Burke was not only charged to the full, but most exorbitantly (Hear, hear). At one particular place he was charged £20 a ton for hay, 18s. 6d. a bushel for oats, and no less than 8s a lb for beef (Oh! oh!).

The consequences of these things was that Mr Burke had to give more cheques than was anticipated, and the amount lodged to his private account happening to run out, one cheque came down, and the party holding it was disappointed for a single day. It ought, however, to be borne in mind that at the very day that cheque was so dishonoured on the private account, there was £2,000 in bank to the general account (Applause.)

Friday, 12 October 1860.
Ordinary meeting of the Exploration Committee.
Present: Eades (chair), Macadam and Wilkie.

Business: As there was not a quorum, the meeting was adjourned to tomorrow.

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/2c, 16 items, Minutes 1 March to 14 November 1860 (incomplete and some undated) 51p.

• 2075/2c (10) a EC meeting, 12 October 1860. 1p.

Saturday, 13 October 1860.
Ordinary meeting of the Exploration Committee.
Present: Eades (chair), Macadam, Wilkie, Gilbee, Iffla and Selwyn.

Business: To consider the propriety of communicating to Mr Burke the results obtained by Stuart.

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the EC meeting, 13 October 1860, signed by Wilkie.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 88. Minutes of the EC meeting, 13 October 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2075/2c (Item 10), RSV EC minutes, 25 January - 14 November 1860. (incomplete and some undated), 51p., ms.

• Minutes of a meeting of the EC, 12 October 1860 and the adjourned meeting of 13 October 1860. 3p.

Monday, 15 October 1860.
Professor Neumayer, having accompanied the Exploring Expedition as far as the Darling, has returned to Melbourne. He met the exploration Committee of the Royal Society [today] and we understand that the members of the Society will be called together this evening, for the purpose of hearing from the professor a detailed account of the progress of the expedition from Melbourne to the Darling. Professor Neumayer is in full possession of the circumstances under which the dismissal of certain members of the expedition took place recently, and these will, no doubt, be laid before the meeting.

The propriety of putting Mr Burke in possession of the facts that have been published in connexion with the late journey of Mr Stuart, the South Australian explorer, has already been discussed by the Committee of the Royal Society, and a resolution in favour of this step has been unanimously agreed to. A special messenger was accordingly despatched for this purpose [on Sunday] afternoon.

Tuesday, 16 October 1860.
Special meeting of the Exploration Committee.
Present: Selwyn (chair), Iffla, Macadam, Embling, Mackenna, Wilkie, Eades and Neumayer.

Business: To receive despatches from the Exploring Party [brought down to Melbourne by Neumayer who had arrived back in Melbourne from Bilbarka on the evening of the 13th].

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the special meeting of the EC, 16 October 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 90. Minutes of the special meeting of the EC, 16 October 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2075/2c (Item 14), RSV EC minutes, 25 January - 14 November 1860. (incomplete and some undated), 51p., ms.

• Minutes of a special meeting of the EC, 16 October 1860. 3p

An extraordinary meeting of the members of the Royal Society was held for the purpose of hearing from Professor Neumayer an account of the progress made by the Exploring Expedition up to the date on which he left it. Consequent upon the hall being thrown open to the public, a large number of persons was present. The Mayor of Melbourne, the vice-president of the society, being in the chair.

Several good sketches of the country passed through by the party, and of the blackfellows met with in their route, made by Dr Becker were laid upon the table [also various botanical specimens collected by Dr Beckler].

The Chairman opened the business of the evening by making some remarks of an explanatory nature. All present were, no doubt, aware of the distance attained by Mr Stuart in his late expedition; and the Committee of Exploration, thinking that the experience of Mr Stuart might affect the journey of Mr Burke, had convened the present meeting. They thought that it would be advisable to communicate with Mr Stuart on the subject as early as possible, in order to forward as much information as possible to Mr Burke, and a telegram was sent to that gentleman. A deputation waited upon the Chief Secretary [O'Shanassy] to obtain his cooperation in the matter, and Mr Nicholson not only gave his consent to the telegram being forwarded, but expressed in a most cordial way a hope that the thing would be done as soon as possible.

The Chairman called upon the Professor to address the meeting. Professor Neumayer (who was most warmly received) then proceeded to state that upon his return to Melbourne, and after he had been made aware of the various rumours circulated concerning the Exploring Expedition, he considered it was the best course to inform the public as to the actual state of things, inasmuch as personal observation had put him in possession of all the facts. He considered that by so doing he would be only fulfilling his duty (hear). Although his time was so limited that he was not in a position to put his remarks on paper. He, therefore, hoped those present would forgive him if he did not come up to the mark they expected him to arrive at, but his time had been so much occupied. The reasons which had induced him to follow the expedition for a certain time were, that his heart and soul were fully in the matter, and he thought that Mr Burke might require some assistance in some scientific matters connected with the journey. He had made up his mind to render every assistance in his power, and that was the sole reason why he had accompanied the expedition. The remarks he was about to make were not only founded upon personal observation, but upon what be had heard from Mr Burke, and he should make them with a view to answer any question that might be put to him. Upon joining Mr Burke at the camp at Swan Hill, he found that he had made arrangements by which all the stores would be conveyed to the Darling - not to a certain point either, near to the junction of the Darling, but leaving the question open. For that purpose vehicles were required, and Mr Burke expressed his regret that he would be compelled to differ from the Committee. His reasons for taking such a step were, that he saw there was no time to spare to allow him to wait for an answer from the Committee, because the settlers in the neigbourhood all told him to 'rush' as quickly as possible to the Darling, or he would be unable to go there for some months. That was the reason why Mr Burke acted as he had; and he showed wisdom in so acting, because had he delayed eight days it was quite certain that the stores would not have reached half way between the Murray and the Darling. The party left Swan Hill with the best wishes of the inhabitants, and great kindness was shown to it, as no doubt all present were aware from the reports in the public journals. The speaker then proceeded to describe the journey from Swan Hill, but stated nothing of any interest except that the camels were rather refractory when crossing the punts over the rivers. No horses could be seen for weeks afterwards in the neighbourhood, or blacks either, so frightened were both bipeds and quadrupeds at the camels. The expedition then reached the Murrumbidgee, after crossing the great swamp, in which the water was up to the horses' knees. However it was most successfully crossed. He would not pass over his stay at the camp, without referring to a subject which had been much discussed in the public journals - namely, the reduction of his party by Mr Burke. The reasons for that reduction were most simple. On the one hand it was thought desirous to reduce the expenses of the expedition; and on the other, Mr Burke considered the party was too bulky to secure a speedy and successful expedition. He also resolved to leave a portion of his stores at Balranald, in order to make the whole machinery of the party more movable. Certain men were sent to take charge of and protect the stores, in company with Dr Becker and other gentlemen, and were to follow afterwards. Considering that something might occur which would compel him to leave that party for some time behind him, Mr Burke selected the best men for the purpose, and his decision was approved of by the whole of the officers. Receiving additional information that he had better push on as speedily as possible, he made up his mind to bring the matter to an issue, especially as some of his men had said they would sooner leave him than go on further. Mr Burke immediately agreed to allow them to leave, and accordingly Ferguson and Langen were discharged, and Dr Becker and the others were sent for to follow the party - the goods being left with a storeman of the name of Sparkes, That was the state of things, and he (Professor Neumayer) would be most happy to answer any questions concerning it after he had finished his lecture. He would proceed further. After the party had been reduced, and made more moveable, and after the stores had been reduced and the camels well tried, they proceeded to Lake Merumboo. He might say that during the whole time, with one or two exceptions, they were well received by the settlers - in fact, in a most friendly and hospitable manner. He could not give a description of the townships through which they passed, as they consisted mostly of a hut and a waterhole; but upon their arrival at the camp between the Darling and the Murrumbidgee they found fine grass and splendid feed, and the weather being exceedingly fine it was really a pleasure to pass through the valleys. After that the country was densely scrubbed, and it was thought they would have to carry water as they might not find any for 24 hours; but the state of things proved not to be so bad as that, as they found some mud holes with water in them at the next camping place. Upon proceeding further they found the water to be getting much scarcer, and for nearly 30 hours the supply was very small indeed. He then left the expedition, as he wished to make some observations. Up to that time the party had to cross nothing but plains; but eventually they had to cross a ridge of sandy plains, reaching the Darling on the 25th September, and pitching their camp in the immediate neighbourhood of Phelps's station, but they afterwards removed it in consequence of the feed not being good. Mr Burke then determined to send back a messenger to the people in charge of the waggons, telling them how to proceed, but as there was hardly any feed, it was resolved to send back the camels and horses, in order to relieve the camels [sic - wagons?] as much as possible. He (Professor Neumayer) thought it was then time for him to return, and he left the party in most excellent spirits, steps being taken to organize them in a manner which would ensure success. With regard to the officers and men, he might say that he was highly pleased with the position the officers held towards each other. They were all on excellent terms with each other, and he might say there was not one man who was not pleased with the excellent leader placed over him. He could not refrain from making a remark touching the scientific gentlemen who had been appointed to accompany the expedition. He thought sufficient provision had not been made to enable them to carry out the objects of the expedition - for instance, Mr Wills, a young man whom he had known for two years, had done all he could to accomplish the task allotted to him, but there was a great deal to do in order to survey that country, and the scientific features of it could not be attended to. All this the Committee had forseen, but were unable to obtain a second surveyor, a fact he regretted very much. With reference to the other gentlemen he would make no remarks, but he was certain they would do all in their power to realize the expectations formed of them by the Committee and public at large (hear). The men were thoroughly fit and suitable for the work. He might take that opportunity of stating that Mr Burke had selected while on the road two or three men well adapted to perform the duties required of them. One was Mr Hodgkinson, who was not only a well educated young man, but was always most willing to do his duty; and another was a sailor of the name of Charlie. With regard to the animals, the camels had been kept by Mr Landells in most wonderful trim, and that gentleman stated that he believed no difficulty would be experienced in obtaining feed for them. The black fellows used to call them white emus, and said they would sooner ride any 'buck jumper' than mount them. The horses, as he before remarked, had also a special dislike to them. The camels thrived exceedingly; well upon the salt bush, and appeared to , like it very much. With regard to the horses, they had all arrived in excellent condition, and proved themselves equal to the work. The average stage per diem, after the waggons were left behind, was about 25 miles, sometimes as high as 32 miles, but afterwards only short stages were made. With regard to his return to Victoria, immediately after leaving the camp the wet weather set in, which proved how judicious it was on the part or Mr Burke to make the Darling as quickly as possible, and some of the plains were almost impassable; and it would have been impossible far the waggons to have crossed the swamp, as he was compelled to swim his horse across. With those few remarks he would conclude, and at the same time it would give him great pleasure to answer any questions which might be put to him.

A gentleman from the body of the room asked Professor Neumayer whether any practical information had been obtained from the exploring party since it had left Melbourne - what was the nature of the land they had gone over? Was it well-watered and suitable for settlement? Professor Neumayer said that he had refrained from making any observations on the subject mentioned, inasmuch as his time had been hardly sufficient to enable him to arrange any facts arising from his recent journey, his only object having been to state the progress of the expedition.

In reply to Dr Iffla, Professor Neumayer stated that the ground was chiefly of a sandy nature, and not stony. The camels had travelled over it with apparent ease to themselves, one or two only having shown symptoms of weariness.

Dr Mueller asked whether there was any difficulty in making the camels go through the scrub? He had been informed that they were timid at entering it. Professor Neumayer said that, generally speaking, there was no difficulty whatever experienced. On one occasion one of the camels broke loose, and got away into the scrub, which seemed to prove that they were not timid. The camel in question was not recovered for several days afterwards, when he was found by Mr Landells quietly grazing, with his pack still upon him undisturbed. Mr Landells, he might observe, seemed thoroughly to understand the camels, as also did Mr King, who accompanied him.

Dr Macadam asked whether there was any truth in the reports which appeared in a newspaper of the 26th ult., which referred to the dismissal of several of the party? Professor Neumayer said that so far as he knew, Mr Burke had endeavoured to keep the party together, as far as possible, as it had been originally organized. One man named Bowman, who followed the expedition to the Darling, had asked for his discharge, on the ground that the mode of payment did not suit him. With reference to the newspaper statement in question, he did not think that Mr Burke had ever decided upon the list of names mentioned.

Mr Ferguson proceeded to make a statement relative to his dismissal from the party, in which he was interrupted by the Chairman, who informed him that, not being a member of the society, he could only he allowed to put a question to Mr Neumayer through a member.

Professor Neumayer stated that his policy had been never to interfere with the business of Mr Burke at all. Professor Neumayer, in reply to Dr Macadam, said no feeling of dissatisfaction existed in the camp.

In answer to a question put by Mr Osborne, Professor Neumayer said that the weather was exceedingly propitious during the whole time he was with Mr Burke. The mornings were rather cool, but the evenings were mild, and the breeze was generally genial and pleasant. On turning his steps homeward there were thunder showers, and the weather was rather inclement.

Dr Iffla then proposed a vote of thanks to Professor Neumayer for the information which he had afforded the society.

Professor Neumayer said it was not his intention to join the expedition, but merely to go as far as Swan Hill, from which place he would forward despatches to Mr Burke.

Thursday, 18 October 1860.
Related archive:
SLV MS13071, Dispatches sent to Burke by the RSV EC, Box 2082/2b (1-3):
Dispatches sent to Burke, dated Melbourne 18 October 1860. 7p.

• Memorandum to Burke from Macadam dated 18 October 1860. 6p.
• Letter to Burke from Secretary for Railways dated 26 June 1861. 5p.
• Two newspaper cuttings sent to Burke by Macadam, ‘North Australia’ and ‘The Exploring Expedition’.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/5, RSV EC outward correspondence August 1860 to July 1869.

• Letter to Becker dated 18 October 1860.
• Letter to Burke dated 18 October 1860.
• Dispatches sent to Burke, dated Melbourne 18 October 1860. 7p.

SLV MS13071, Box 2079/3, RSV EC miscellaneous outward correspondence, February-October 1860 and July 1861-November 1872. 126p.

• Letter to Burke dated 18 October 1860. 3p.

Friday, 26 October 1860.
Ordinary meeting of the Exploration Committee.
Present: Wilkie (chair), Macadam, MacKenna, Gilbee, Elliott. Selwyn.

Business: To consider a claim for compensation made by Ferguson through his solicitors.

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2079/3, RSV EC miscellaneous outward correspondence, February-October 1860 and July 1861-November 1872. 126p.

• Letter to Read & Cresswell dated 26 October 1860. 1p.

SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the EC meeting, 26 October 1860, signed Eades.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 91. Minutes of the EC meeting, 26 October 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2075/2c (Item 15), RSV EC minutes, 25 January - 14 November 1860. (incomplete and some undated), 51p., ms.

• Minutes of a meeting of the EC, 26 October 1860. 2p.

Monday, 29 October 1860.
Ordinary meeting of the Royal Society, His Excellency the Governor presided.

Dr Macadam announced that he had received no communication from the exploration party, beyond a letter from Mr Wills, the astronomer, who had transmitted his rough notes and calculations, leaving them to be made up at the Melbourne Observatory, in order that the localities of the different camps might be accurately set forth.

Mr Wade called attention to the following statement, which appeared in the Herald of Friday, and asked whether there was any truth in the report referred to:

A letter appeared in a contemporary yesterday, giving, from the writer's personal knowledge, a favourable account of the exploring expedition up till the 9th inst. We have heard rumours of a very grave character, setting out a totally different state of things. As we are very unwilling to publish any adverse statement about the expedition, except on the most reliable authority, and as the rumours in question have not been clearly authenticated to us, we withhold them for the present. All we shall now state is that, if genuine, they go so far as to intimate the failure of the undertaking under Mr Burke's leadership.

Dr Macadam said he had read this statement with very great regret. He had received no intelligence for probably two or three weeks, but he did see a notice in the paper at the end of last week, to the, effect that Mr Wills, the astronomer, had written a letter to his father, stating that the party was in the best order, and moving on in the most favourable way. He had received from Mr Wills the communication, which he had already laid before the meeting, and there being only one part from that district intervening, he did not see how any person could receive a communication from the exploring party without a communication also reaching the Committee, unless, in the event of the party being split up, several persons belonging to it had returned to Melbourne. He at once set about to ascertain the source of the rumour.

Mr Franklyn, of the Herald, told him that a gentleman, whose name he could not disclose, called upon him about 12 o'clock on Friday night, and made a strong statement, which included a string of charges against Mr Burke, and which, he requested might be published in the morning. Mr Franklyn said that the statement which had been published was mild under all the circumstances, and added that he was informed that Mrs Landells had received a letter from her husband intimating that he was on his way to town; but if that proved untrue, it would tend much to invalidate the published statement. At his (Dr Macadam's) request, Mr Nash, the Government storekeeper, undertook to wait upon Mrs Landells. A communication has since been received from Mr Nash;

29th October.

My dear Doctor Macadam,
I have been exceedingly ill since I left you on Saturday, consequently I could not see Mrs. Landells before this morning; she is as amazed with the report as ourselves. She denies it in toto.

Faithfully yours,
R Nash

So far, therefore, as this link in the statement went, the matter was entirely without foundation. He (Dr Macadam) trusted the whole statement would fall to pieces in the same manner; and he thought it would be much more creditable, if any private individuals who received information earlier than the Committee, would at once put themselves in communication with the Committee, rather than go to a newspaper office at midnight, which proceeding was not only a piece of injustice to the Committee, but a most cowardly and assassin-like set towards their noble leader (hear, hear), in whom, from the first, they had all had confidence, which he hoped would not abate until in withdrawal was really merited (Applause).

He thought it would be far more creditable if gentlemen who might happen to receive intelligence of the party before the Committee, whether such intelligence was farourable or otherwise, to communicate the same to the Committee instead of going to a newspaper office at midnight, and acting in such a cowardly and assassin-like manner towards the noble leader of the expedition, in whom they all had the greatest confidence, and which confidece they were not likely to withdraw from him without very sufficient reasons. (Applause.)

Late on Saturday evening a Cabinet Minister came to his house and told him that he had been also visited by a particular party (whose name he was likewise prevented from giving), who made the statement in the very same terms. Now, unless there was some foundation for the appeal which this person made, that a messenger should be despatched to the party, and virtually to withdraw Mr Burke, the proceeding showed a want of that openness and candour in a matter of this kind which they had a right to expect (Applause).

Monday, 5 November 1860.
Ordinary meeting of the Exploration Committee. The meeting was called in haste at rather short notice.
Present: Eades (chair), Wilkie, Embling, Mackenna, Gilbee, Macadam, Elliott, Hodgkinson and Smith.

Business: To consider important despatches from the leader. [Including Landells' resignation, Wills' statement and Beckler's resignation].

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the EC meeting, 5 November 1860, signed by Eades.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 93. Minutes of the EC meeting, 5 November 1860.

Saturday, 10 November 1860.
Ordinary meeting of the Exploration Committee.
Present: Eades (chair), Wilkie, Iffla, Gilbee, Macadam, Selwyn and Elliott.
(Wilkieites v Macadamites - See Bonyhady, 1991, pp. 107-8.)

Business: To consider and arrange for the appointment of a medical officer for the expedition to replace Dr Beckler.

It being understood that Dr Stuart, of Sandhurst, had come to Melbourne to offer his services to the Committee, and that Mr Burke was very anxious he should be appointed. Dr Stuart, however, tendered his services only on condition that he should be ensured the rank of second in command.

Several members of the Committee thought that it would be unfair to Mr Wills that Dr Stuart should be placed over him, and accordingly it was moved by Dr Gilbee, seconded by John Watson Esq., and carried:

That Dr Stuart be offered the surgeonship to the exploration party; but that the conditions, stated by him must be left to the consideration of Mr Burke.

Dr Stuart, who was in attendance, was called in, and expressed his great desire to join the expedition, but said he could not abandon his present position unless he should be appointed second in command. He would not have come to Melbourne had he not supposed that Mr Landells' place was vacant, and that it was for the Committee, with the sanction of the Government, to name Mr Landells' successor.

A vote of thanks to Dr Stuart was moved by Mr J Watson, seconded by Dr Macadam, and adopted, for the sacrifice he had made in leaving his practice to come to Melbourne, and for the enthusiasm he had shown in the cause of exploration. Drs Mueller, Wilkie, Macadam, and Eades, John Watson Esq., J P and A R C Selwyn, Esq, &c., were then appointed a deputation to wait on the Hon the Chief Secretary, to explain the position of the Committee with reference to Dr Stuart's appointment as surgeon to the expedition.

The following letter to the Hon Secretary of the Royal Society was read at the meeting:

Melbourne,
10 November [1860].

Sir - In reference to your communication on the subject of my becoming a member of the Victorian Exploring Expedition, I have the honour to intimate to you my readiness to do so by the earliest opportunity, doing duty as medical officer, and assisting in every other way in my offer, provided I am insured the rank of second in command. The question of remuneration is quite a secondary one, and would in no way interfere with the desire I have to assist in opening up the interior of our continent; but the question of precedence is an essential one, and except in the position stated, I should not feel myself justified in abandoning my present employment.

I have the honour to be, Sir,
your obedient servant,
John Stuart.

Dr John Stuart was, in 1850-1, a volunteer on board HM Brig Lady Franklin, under Captain Penny, engaged in the search for Sir John Franklin, acting as third officer, commanding travelling parties during the season, and assisting in all the surveys, in astronomical observations, &c., for which service he received favourable mention in the 'Arctic Blue Book' of December 1851. Afterwards, while surgeon of HMS Winchester, flagship in China, when he received honourable mention in the general orders and despatches of Admiral Sir J Stirling, he accompanied her throughout three cruises in Japan and the Gulf of Tartary, being one of every boat party for the exploration of the Tartary coast.

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the EC meeting, 10 November 1860, signed by Stawell.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 94. Minutes of the EC meeting, 10 November 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2075/2c (Item 2), RSV EC minutes, 25 January - 14 November 1860. (incomplete and some undated), 51p., ms.

• Partial minutes of a meeting of the EC, undated, but most likely 10 November 1860, 1p.

Monday, 12 November 1860.
A deputation from the Exploration Committee of the Royal Society waited yesterday on the Chief Secretary, for the purpose of communicating the result of the meeting on Saturday, namely that they could not appoint Dr John Stuart, of Bendigo, as medical officer to the Exploring Expedition, because that gentleman stipulated, as a sine qua non, that he should be recognized as the second in command. The Chief Secretary expressed his regret that the expedition would not have the benefit of Dr Stuart's services, but admitted that the Committee, in justice to the officers connected with the expedition, could not have adopted any other course. Under these circumstances, the Committee will have to invite the applications of gentlemen disposed to join the expedition as medical officer.

The following letter from Dr Stuart was read:

Menzies Hotel,
Saturday afternoon [10 November 1860].

To: The Hon Dr Wilkie.
Dear Sir,
Learning that the hurried letter I wrote in the society's hall today is to be produced by a deputation to the Hon the Chief Secretary, where I will have no opportunity of explaining its baldness, I would beg of you to state that my principal objection to join the expedition, except with the rank of second insured to me, is simply that, having gone through some similar service with a certain amount of approval, I will not subject myself to the possibility of being concerned in the risk of failure through any accident throwing the conduct of the party into the hands of a young gentleman who may have every capability of command, but has yet to prove it.

I like all I have seen of Wills very much; but I should not feel justified in committing to his care the success of such an undertaking, and the lives of 14 or 15 men, should Mr Burke become incapacitated in any way. With those feelings, it would be not only folly but dishonesty in me to offer my services under any other terms than those I have stated.
Yours very truly,
Dr John Stuart.

Wednesday, 14 November 1860.
An Extraordinary Special Meeting of the Exploration Committee was  held at the society’s building.
Present: Sir William Stawell, Dr Eades (chair), Dr Macadam, Dr Wilkie, Dr Iffla, Mr Embling, Mr Jas. Smith, Mr Ligar, Mr Selwyn, and Mr Watson.

Business was to hear the statement of Mr Landells, late second in command of the Exploring Expedition. The Chairman stated the object of the meeting. There was, he said, a written report from Mr Landells, directed to the Hon Secretary of the Exploration Committee, and he thought the best thing that could be done was to have it read at once, and then come to some conclusion.

Dr Macadam, Hon Secretary of the Committee, then stated that at about 1 o'clock that afternoon he received a visit from Mr Landells, who placed in his hands the hands the report which he was about to read. Mr Landells further informed him that, he had only arrived in Melbourne that morning. In answer to that gentleman's question, as to when a meeting of the Committee would be held, he (Dr Macadam) pledged himself to see the members thereof and procure a meeting that afternoon, in order that immediate publicity might be procured to the statement. Dr Macadam proceeded to read Landells' statement.

After reading that part of Mr Landells' statement which alluded to the unnecessary discharge by Mr Burke of a number of men who were in every way adapted for exploring, Dr Macadam said that while going over it with Mr Landells he asked that gentleman to show him the names of the men he  particularized. Mr Landells, however, could only show the names of three man who had left Melbourne – the others hiving only been taken on at different stages, and employed specially for a month or so.

Mr Selwyn said the following note from Professor Neumayer had been handed to him by Captain Cadell. He then read aloud the letter from Wills. Mr Selwyn remarked that, owing to a slip of Professor Neumayer, the concluding sheets had been omitted, and the letter broke off thus abruptly.

On the request of our reporter to be allowed to copy the documents just read, a conversation arose respecting the propriety of publishing Mr Landells' statement. Mr James Smith moved that the statement of Mr Landells be received. Mr Ligar thought it could hardly be received officially, as it had not been sent through the leader.

Mr Selwyn thought Mr Wills's letter ought to be published, if the other was. Mr Watson was of opinion that both were such trash as to be unimportant. Dr Macadam said that Mr Landells had told him that he had a copy of his report, and if the Committee did not publish it he (Mr Landells) should. Mr Smith remarked that it must be borne in mind that Mr Wills's letter was not signed. Dr Macadam replied that there was no doubt but that Mr Wills had written it. The handwriting was exactly the same as that of his preceding letter. Sir W Stawell said if we do not publish Mr Landells' statement the public will think there is something in it. Dr Iffla saw no great objection to Mr Landells' statement going forth to the world, without the other side being heard. The publication of Mr Wills's letter would have that effect. Mr Smith pressed his motion, that the letter be received, and laid on the table.

Mr Ligar considered that the publication of the preceding statements necessitated the laying of this directly before the public. He considered that Mr Landells' objections to Mr Burke's conduct were not well grounded, especially those with regard to the camels being over-worked. He did not think a camel was distressed by being taken 20 or 25 miles a day; and with respect to the alleged overloading, he had made a calculation. Four tons between 16 camels left only about 16 stone each, which was not as much as if the camel had Mr O’Shanassy on his back (Laughter).

Dr Iffla pointed out that Mr Landells had been appointed at Mr Burke's own request. After a long desultory conversation, Mr James Smith moved:

That this Committee is of opinion that the statement now received from Mr Landells contains nothing to affect the resolution arrived at by this Committee on the perusal of the despatches received on previous occasions.

Mr Ligar seconded the motion, which was carried unanimously.

Sir William Stawell wished to know what could be done in respect to Dr Stuart. He had been detained in court when the Committee came to its present resolution. He was of opinion that Mr Wills's position was in no way affected by Dr Stuart.

The Chairman said the duty of the Committee had simply been to select a doctor, not to appoint any one to the first, second, or third place. Under these circumstances, he thought the Committee had taken the most prudent course. The Committee had been unanimous in regretting that they could not accept Dr Stuart's services. Sir Wm Stawell thought so too. Such a man as Dr Stuart, who was in good practice and whose word was law in the hospitals with which he was connected, was not often to be had. Indeed, from Dr Stuart's position, he wondered at his readiness to go, and, more than all, at his readiness to take a second place in the expedition. Mr Embling gave notice of motion that at the next meeting he should move that Dr Stuart's offer be reconsidered. Dr Wilkie expressed himself as quite agreeing with Mr Embling.

After some further desultory conversation, the meeting broke up.

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the EC special meeting, 14 November 1860, signed by Stawell.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 95. Minutes of the EC meeting, 14 November 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2075/2c (Item 16), RSV EC minutes, 25 January - 14 November 1860. (incomplete and some undated), 51p., ms.

• Minutes of a special meeting of the EC, 14 November 1860. 1p

Saturday, 17 November 1860.
Ordinary meeting of the Exploration Committee, held in the afternoon at the Royal Society's hall.
Present: Stawell (chair), Eades, Wilkie, Mueller and Macadam.

Business: To appoint a medical officer and to receive despatches from the leader.

The Secretary (Dr Macadam) laid on the table eight applications for the vacant position, upon which a discussion of a conversational nature was raised. A communication was also read from Mr Wills, the father of the gentleman at present with the expedition in the capacity of astronomer, stating that his son was 27 years of age, and that he had received a medical education, but had subsequently abandoned the idea of entering the medical profession, preferring to devote himself to the cultivation of the exact sciences.

Dr Mueller said he attributed the destruction of Kennedy's party to the absence of a medical man. In reference to Dr Beckler, he was sure, from what he knew of that gentleman, that he would never think of leaving the expedition until his successor should be appointed. Dr Beckler had been 15 months in his (Dr Mueller's) department, and he know him to be a very conscientious man.

The Chairman said he altogether approved of the appointment of Dr Stuart, could it have been arranged. Such an appointment would be no injustice whatever, that he could see, to Mr Wills. The Committee, he thought, were perfectly at liberty to appoint any medical man they thought proper, without being fettered by any conditions.

After some further discussion, Dr Wilkie moved:

That the Committee do refrain at present from making a selection from the applications submitted.

That the Committee communicate to Mr Burke the conditions upon which Dr Stuart is willing to accompany the expedition, and that Dr Beckler be requested to remain with the party until his successor be appointed.

The resolutions were carried unanimously.

Dr Mueller, referring to the routes of the various exploring parties, said it scarcely seemed that any necessity existed of the expeditions intruding upon each other's ground. As Stuart had now penetrated nearly to the Gulf of Carpentaria, and as it was of the utmost importance that the western portion of the continent should be explored, he thought it might advantageously be suggested to Mr Burke that he should direct his attention to those quarters, and endeavour to connect them with the discoveries of the elder Gregory on the Victoria River.

Dr Gilbee differed from Dr Mueller, and reminded the Committee that, according to the original instructions, Mr Burke, after leaving the settled districts, was to be left entirely to his own discretion as to what route he would pursue. He thought it would be improper and impolite to fetter him in the least degree. There would, besides, be no interest attaching for some time to the western districts, whereas the line which it was probable Mr Burke would follow was one of the utmost importance in view of transit across the continent, and for telegraphic connexion with the northern coast. Mr Stuart's discoveries were his own, and they had no business to meddle with him. The same arguments as those put forward by Dr Mueller might indeed have been used to Stuart himself.

The Chairman said Mr Burke might be requested to keep up as regular a botanical collection as he possibly could. Dr Mueller said he should be sorry to hinder in the least the geographical objects of the expedition; but he could not, at the same time, lose sight of the importance of properly attending to the botany of the central continent. If Mr Stuart, with such limited means at his disposal, had done so much for South Australia in that point of view, it would be a disgrace to the Victorian expedition if it should fall short. But unless someone were appointed whose regular duty it would be to make a botanical collection there would be little opportunity, he feared, of anything satisfactory being done. He would suggest, therefore, that some member of the party should be named for the purpose, who, without neglecting his general duties, should devote his attention to the interests of botanical science as far as possible. The subject then dropped; and the Committee adjourned.

Related archive: SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 96. Minutes of the EC meeting, 17 November 1860, signed by Stawell.

Monday, 19 November 1860.
An ordinary meeting of the Royal Society of Victoria was held at the hall in the evening. Dr Eades in the chair.

Frederick Acheson asked if there had been a separate agreement with Mr Landells. Dr Macadam produced letters which had passed between Mr Landells and the Committee, to show that there were no instructions to Mr Landells to place him in a position independant of Mr Burke.

Frederick Acheson, Esq., made some inquiries respecting the terms on which Mr Landells had been engaged by the Exploration Committee. The Hon Secretary replied by reading the correspondence that had passed between Mr Landells and the Committee on the subject. Mr Acheson considered the reply very satisfactory.

Dr Eades made a few remarks expressing his approval of the course Mr Burke had pursued.

The Hon Secretary read two short dispatches from the party.

Tusday, 20 November 1860.

Macadam received a despatch from Becker, dated Menindie, 30 October 1860.

Thursday, 22 November 1860.
Related archive: SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/5, RSV EC outward correspondence August 1860 to July 1869.

• Letter to Burke dated 22 November 1860.

26 November 1860.
Richard Heales appointed as Chief Secretary, replacing the Nicholson Ministry (to 14 November 1861).

Monday, 3 December 1860.
Ordinary meeting of the Exploration Committee.
Present: Wilkie (chair) and Macadam.

Business: To receive despatches from the expedition (including Wills' second surveyors report and a chart of the route prepared by the surveyor, and a report from Dr Beckler about his exploratory trip to the Scropes Ranges and his resignation, and Becker's Third Report accompanied by 14 sketches).

Despatches were received from the exploring party yesterday morning, and wore read yesterday at a meeting of the Exploration Committee of the Royal Society, held in the aftornoon. We are happy to state that they are of a satisfactory character. Mr Burke states from a temporary camp, 200 miles north of Meninda, or the Torowoto Swamp, in about the parallel of lat. 30 deg. , long. 142½ deg. The party had travelled at the rate of 20 miles a day, for 10 days after leaving Meninda, and had accomplished half the distance between that station and Cooper's Creek. The route taken, as a reference to the latest maps will show, was considerably to the right of the track taken by Sturt, and abundance of water was found on the way, while the surveyor reports favourably of the country for pastoral purposes.

On this part of the journey Mr Burke was accompanied by Mr Wright, an experienced bushman, whom he had nominated third in command, and who returned from Torowoto to Meninda to take up the remainder of the party, and to prepare and carry up jerked beef, &c, for the depot which Mr Burke, carrying out the idea originally entertained, proposes to establish on Cooper's Creek, preparatory to his start to the north or west.

Mr Burke had not, at the date of his despatch, received the despatches forwarded to him, conveying the news of Mr Stuart's discoveries, but these Professor Neumayer had delivered over at Swan Hill to Mounted-constable Lyons, who volunteered to convoy thom to Mr Burke. Lyons reached Meninda about the 12th ultimo, and, expressing his wish to proceed onwards, Mr Wright assigned him one of the natives attached to the party as a guide, and the saddler - M'Donagh - who was required in the leader's camp, set out at the same time. They would follow up the track made by the party, and by this time have joined, or will soon over take, Mr Burke's party.

Cooper's Creek, we need hardly say, is situated about half-way between Melbourne and the Gulf of Carpentaria, and as the camels had reached Torowoto in good health, good hopes of the future of the expedition - whether Mr Burke determines to take a northern or a western course - may be entertained.

The committee are perfectly satisfied with the character of the despatches, and with the proceedings of the leader. We may add, for the satisfaction of the public, that though the expedition is now without a doctor, the party will not suffer from the want of medical advice, as the committee have been assured that Mr Wills, the second in command (who is a man of 27 years of age, and not a mere boy, as has been stated), passed through a complete course of medical education in a proper school of medicine, and only refrained from taking a diploma from having turned his attention enthusiastically towards astronomy. Accompanying the reports is a tracing by Mr Wills of the route of the expedition, from Bilbarka to Torowoto, with notes descriptive of the country, which is sketched thus:- "Good sheep country," "stony salt-bush plains," "lightly timbered and well grassed, sand hills and coarse grass," "low quartz rises, covered with salt-bush;" "fine grassy salt-bush plains, with plenty of water;" "high slaty ranges," &c.

Dr Beckler has sent down three rough sketches of the aspect of the country near Meninda.

Dr Becker has sent specimens of objects of natural history by one of Captain Cadell's steamers, and says he has found "different kinds of ants, some of which show moat peculiar modes of living, working, and attacking."

The sketches forwarded by Dr Becker are admirable, and will form a most interesting feature in the history of the expedition. Among them are the "junction of the Bamawora Creek with the Darling," "mallee sandcliffs at the Darling, 10 miles from Cuthro" (a charming picture of a peculiar scene) ; "Meninda" (a township, consisting of one hotel, a store, a kitchen, and two native huts); the "banks of the Darling, near Bilwaka" (showing the river flowing between banks sloping and smooth like those of a canal); and "the artist's tent at Bilwaka."

It is pleasing that the reports received on this occasion are full of information. The expedition has now, in short, fairly entered on its work.

Related archive: SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 97. Minutes of the EC meeting, 3 December 1860, signed by Stawell.

Wednesday, 5 December 1860.
[Adjourned?] meeting of the Exploration Committee, held at the Royal Society's room.
Present: Stawell (chair), Eades, Wilkie and Macadam.

Business: To consider the report, to dispose of sundry stores and to pass the accounts.

The principal business was to consider the report to be brought forward at the ordinary meeting of the Royal Society, on Monday next.

It was resolved to ask the surveyor-general to lithograph the map which Mr Wills had sent down of the country between Menindie and the point from which the last despatch was received from Mr Burke.

The remainder of the business was merely of a formal nature.

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2075/1c, RSV EC minute book 1858-61, 1 bound volume, ms., pages not numbered.

• Minutes of the EC meeting, 5 December 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 98. Minutes of the EC meeting, 5 December 1860, signed by Wilkie.

Monday, 10 December 1860.
Ordinary meeting of the Royal Society, held in the society's house, Victoria-street.
Dr Eades in the chair.

Dr Macadam acknowledged the receipt of some further notes and three plates from Dr Becker. There was nothing of importance, in the notes, inasmuch as everything contained had already been, published in the public press. Dr Becker sent three additional plates, which were now put up in a portfolio with the others, for the convenience of members.

The Hon Secretary read three communications from Dr Becker [which included three sketches]: Fourth Report, Despatch 1, Despatch 2, Despatch 3.

  © La Trobe Collection, State Library of Victoria - www.slv.vic.gov.au 26. Meteor seen by me on Oct. 11t. at 10h 35m
  © La Trobe Collection, State Library of Victoria - www.slv.vic.gov.au 27. Parasite found in the arm-pit of Gecko no. II
  © La Trobe Collection, State Library of Victoria - www.slv.vic.gov.au 29. Nenma, native word for shells.

Wednesday, 12 December 1860.
Related archive: SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/5, RSV EC outward correspondence August 1860 to July 1869.

• Letter to Dr Wills dated 12 December 1860.

Monday, 31 December 1860.
Special meeting of the Exploration Committee.
Present: Barkly, Stawell (chair), McCoy, Watson, Eades, Wilkie, Gilbee, Iffla, Cadell, Elliott and Macadam (Secretary).

Business: To consider intelligence brought down by Mr Hodgkinson.

In consequence of it being a holiday, and the shortness of the notice, Dr Macadam was unable to procure a large attendance, several members being out of town. Among those present wore His Excellency the Governor, attended by Captain Bancroft, ADO; His Honour the Chief Justice, Drs Eades, Macadam, Wilkie, and Mr Gilbee; Captain Cadell, and Messrs Watson, McCoy, Elliott, &c. Shortly after 1 o'clock, the chair was taken by His Honour the Chief Justice.

Reply to Wright's despatch:

Your despatch of the 19th instant, forwarded per Mr Hodgkinson, was laid before a meeting of the members of the Exploration Committee held this day, when the following resolutions were carried unanimously:

1. That a letter be forwarded to Mr Wright, informing him that his appointment as third in command of the Victorian Expedition, by Mr Burke, has been approved of and confirmed by this Committee.

2. That Mr Wright, third officer of the Victorian Expedition, be empowered to procure a number of horses (not more than ten), and the necessary accoutrements; and also one hundred and fifty (say 150) sheep, and be authorized to draw on the treasurer, the Honourable David E. Wilkie, M.D., M.L.C., for an amount not exceeding four hundred (say £400) pounds sterling, for their purchase, and other necessary incidental expenses.

I have further to inform you that Mr Hodgkinson, who returns as the bearer of this despatch, will hand you an order from Mr Superintendent Foster, of Swan Hill, to obtain from trooper Lyons the despatches for the leader, now in the possession of that officer, and which it is desired you should hand to Mr Burke.

It is hoped by the Committee, that trooper Lyons and saddler Macpherson have safely returned to the camp, and you will kindly report as to the manner in which the former has endeavoured to carry out the duty committed to his charge.

The medal for Dick, the Aboriginal guide, bearing a suitable inscription, is forwarded with this despatch, and the Committee leave in your hands the bestowal of such additional reward as you may deem proper – not exceeding five guineas (say £5, 5s.)

Captain Cadell informed the Committee to-day that his store at Menindie would be at your service for depositing any articles you may find it inconvenient to remove to Cooper's Creek at present.

You will endeavour to secure, if possible, twelve pommel pack-saddles, now arrived, it is believed, on the Darling. These were forwarded via Adelaide, and will no doubt be of great use to the main party.

The Committee desire that on your meeting with Mr Burke, you will show him, and deposit with him, this despatch, as also a copy of yours of the 19th instant, together with copies of all despatches you may forward to the Committee during Mr Burke's absence; and the Committee expect that you will communicate under such circumstances as frequently as possible.

Mr Hodgkinson bears letters for the leader and Mr Wills.

In conclusion, it is hoped that your endeavours to remove the stores from your present depot to Cooper's Creek will be early and successfully accomplished.

A special meeting of the Exploration Committee was held in the Royal Institution, for the purpose of considering the above despatch brought by Mr Hodgkinson, one of the party from Mr Wright, the officer in charge of the depot at the Darling River.

His Excellency, who was present, resigned the honor of presiding to Sir William Stawell, Chairman of the Committee. The despatch above referred to was read, and a lengthened discussion, or rather interrogation of Mr Hodgkinson followed. That gentleman so very lucidly explained the circumstances to the party, in reply to questions put by several members of the Committee that not only was £350 voted to Mr Wright to enable him to purchase horses, but the additional sum of £150 to purchase sheep, and defray other expenses necessary to enable him to proceed with supplies to Mr Burke's party.

It appears that trooper Lyons and saddler Macpherson left the Darling in order to convey to Mr Burke on important despatch, taking with them four horses and a month's provisions. From the statement of Dick, the aboriginal, it would appear that their horses died, and that the men, unable to proceed any further, encamped at a lagoon called Tarra-Watta, some 200 miles from the Darling, where they were dependent for food on the kind offices of the natives. Dick describes the poor fellows as being very much exhausted, but it is hoped that the party sent to their rescue, including as it does the surgeon, Dr Beckler, may succeed in saving their lives. Mr Hodgkinson stated that in all probability Mr Wright would start with five other persons for Cooper's Creek within three days of his return to Menindie.

Mr Hodgkinson left town on Monday, 31 December by the mail train, en route for Swan Hill and the Darling. He takes with him despatches for Mr Wright, and a letter to Mr Superintendent Foster requesting that officer to recall trooper Lyons besides a brass ornament for the blackfellow, Dick.

Related archives:
SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/5, RSV EC outward correspondence August 1860 to July 1869.

• Letter to Wright dated 31 December 1860.
• Letter to Henry Foster dated 31 December 1860.

SLV MS13071, Box 2088B/1, RSV EFC and RSV EC minute book, 1858-1873. 1 bound volume, ms., 295 numbered pages.

• p. 99. Minutes of the EC special meeting, 31 December 1860, signed by Wilkie.

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