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Victorian Exploring Party, 1862

Howitt left Melbourne and arrived back in Menindee on 1 January 1862 on his second trip to Cooper Creek to recover the bodies of Burke and & Wills. On the 3 January, Dost Mahomet was mauled by the male camel Nero. His injuries were severe and he was left in Menindee under the care of Dr Wheeler. As a result of the attack he lost the use of his left arm.

Howitt took nine of the fourteen camels that were in Menindee and placed Alexander Aitken in charge of the camels.

Camels taken on Victorian Exploring Party
1. Mustana
ran away from Howitt's depot on Cooper Creek.
2. Rhidas
3. Simla the most dominant 'master' camel (female)
4. Jambel
5. Coppin
6. Shadow
7. Jubbe
8. Budgee
9. Mochrani

Mustana ran away from Howitt's Depot Camp at Cullyamurra (Kalya-marru) Waterhole around Thursday, 3 July 1862. The tracks headed north-east and they searched for the camel. In August the camel had still not been found and Howitt sent Aitkens, Phillips and Burrell upstream to look for him. They were away for a week but found no trace of the camel. Howitt described the camel as having a dark, thick coat (it was winter), numerous tumours in the neck, branded PV off the cheek and VC near the thigh.

Howitt stayed at Cooper Creek until September 1862 and then, with the exhumed remains of Burke and Wills, followed Strzelecki Creek to Mount Hopeless and Adelaide. One of the female camels gave birth to a calf in September, but as Howitt was traveling at the time and the female refused to be caught and would not allow Howitt to handle the calf, he shot the calf. Howitt remarked, 'camel breeding and exploring are not easily combined'.

Howitt had suggested that rather than return the camels to Melbourne, they should remain 'up country' in South Australia, either at Blanchewater or Angipena where they could be used by McKinlay. However as McKinlay had just arrived in Sydney the Exploration Committee decided to send the camels to join the others at the Wimmera.

Alexander Aitken and Charles Phillips parted from the expedition at Clare and took the eight camels to the Wimmera where he delivered them to Mr [Samuel?] Wilson in Stawell. Wilson took the camels to his property at Longerenong.

Howitt left five camels behind in Menindee and these were taken to Melbourne by H.M. Sampson. The camels were in poor condition and Samson spent some time spelling the camels in Swan Hill, rubbing them with oil. He left Swan Hill on the 25 February 1862 and arrived in Melbourne on 8 March when the camels were placed in Royal Park with the other camels that had been left behind when Burke and Wills departed.

Camels returned to Melbourne
Carlo's calf
Gobin's calf

www.burkeandwills.net.au Burke & Wills Web The digital research archive of expedition records
© 2020, Dave Phoenix