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Pamamaroo, 7 January 1862.

Original item held at the State Library of Victoria, SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5a, Item 20.
Dispatches sent by members of the Victorian Relief Expedition to the Exploration Committee.
Alfred Howitt's dispatch, [Pamamaroo], 7 January 1862.


Received by the Exploration Committee in Melbourne on 20 January 1862.
This despatch also included:

  • The agreement drawn up between Howitt and members of his 'second' contingent party, signed by the said members and dated 7 January 1862.
  • A private letter from Dr Murray which was was handed to the Committee by Dr Featherstone. It contains a brief sketch of the journey of the party to their camp at Pamamaroo Creek.
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Pamamaroo Depot, Darling river,
January 7, 1862.

I have the honour to report my arrival here with the Victorian Exploring Party on 1st January, 1862, and I expect to leave on Wednesday, 8th January. I propose following up the Darling, either as far as Mount Murchison, and from that point striking across towards Poria creek, or to some place on the river from which I can easily make the Parra river; but the choice of routes will depend upon information which I hope to obtain higher up the river.

I shall have with me forty-five horses and nine camels, the brands and description of which are already in the hands of the committee. My full complement of stores I shall complete higher up the river, and I shall, before leaving the Darling, communicate a list of the same. Dr Wheeler, as officer in charge of the depot, has given receipts for stores purchased during my absence.

I enclose statement of my expenses since leaving Melbourne in charge of the contingent exploring party, and an account of the various sums advanced by me to the various members of the party who are now returning.

I regret to have to report a very serious accident which happened here on January 3. Bhotan (sepoy), in cleaning the male camel, Nero, was suddenly seized by him, and had we not been near at hand, would certainly have been killed; as it was, his arm, by which the camel lifted him off the ground, and shook him with the greatest ease, as a cat would shake a mouse, was shockingly mangled. Drs Murray and Wheeler immediately attended him, and, owing to the serious nature of the accident, I sent into Menindie for Dr Cotter. I am happy to say that Bhotan is in a favourable state, and should the wound not take a turn for the worse, will, most probably, recover. I have taken such precautions as will prevent the camel doing any injury on the road down, but I must warn the Committee that he is of a most savage disposition, and should be kept where he could do no one any injury. I may state as a specimen of his habits that he has several times (in hobbles), walked into the camp during my absence to town, and turned every one out of it, and that he is not to be trusted for a moment. Since I have had him in my charge, he has been quite unfit for work, and I doubt whether his back will ever remain sound under a saddle. Had he been any other animal than a camel, I should have felt it my duty to have destroyed him, and I feel convinced that, until only female camels are used for exploring, no one can be safe from accidents of various kinds.

The remainder of the camels are in splendid condition, better than I have yet seen them, and the horses are in excellent working order. Mr Vining, and Mr W Calcutt return to town with three horses tomorrow evening. Mr Wheeler, Mr Sampson, and Belooch (a sepoy), will have to remain until Bhotan is able to bear the journey down, when they will return to Melbourne with two horses, and five camels, including two young ones, leaving the surplus stores and equipments at Captain Cadell's store, in Menindie. A list of these will be furnished to the Committee.

I have to mention that, during my absence, three of the party, Messrs Aitken, Williams, and Tennier, have been slightly attacked by scurvy, but by medical treatment, and the free use of native vegetables, growing plentifully on the river, are now almost recovered.

I have appointed Mr A Aitken as storekeeper, and in charge of camels, and I feel great pleasure in being able to do so, as I have found him everything I could desire for that position.

I have, &c,
A. W. Howitt.


The following is an extract from a letter from Dr Murray to Dr Featherstone, Melbourne, passed to the Royal Society for their information by Dr Featherstone:—

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You may perceive by the heading of this letter, that I have arrived safely at Menindie after a journey of about three weeks. On leaving Swan Hill we crossed the Murray, and proceeding N.N.E. entered. the territory of N.S.W. We reached the Wakool River in due time, and having croosed it proceeded to the Murrumbidgee. This we crossed, at the township of Balranald, and then made for the Darling. Having reached it we followed its course for some time and arrived on the 1st inst at Menindie— seven miles beyond which our present camp is situated.

The journey tried me pretty severely. Heat, fatigue, 10 hours daily in the saddle, hard beef cooked by my own hands, or greasy mutton, with tea and damper — all these are the luxuries of bush travelling. Yet there are pleasures attached to this life, of a peculiarly agreeable nature. You are always breathing pure air. Your bed is certainly hard but you have the blue vault of heaven for a canopy. And then your appetite is always good, which gives coarse food a relish, and makes you forget the advantage of dainties, &c, &c, &c.

Dr. James Murray.
Pamamaroo Creek, near Menindie,
6th January [1862]


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