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October 1861

Tracks of McKinlay and party across Australia
London: Sampson, Low & Son & Co.
(Ferguson 9005).
Monday, 21 October 1861.
Here is most splendid feed for our horses, bullocks, and all the stock, and from the quantity of wild fowl, we may say also for men; and many a goose, duck, etc will lose the members of his mess to add to the comfort of ours. I must here digress a little, and tell the reader what rations were allowed us per week, so that as we go on he may see how we go down in the scale (I don't wish to pun on such a serious subject) as we proceeded on our journey. Each man per week: sugar 2 lb, tea 4 oz, flour 8 lb, mutton and bacon as much as we liked. Saved flour, but nothing else; sugar was gone before the week was out often.

Tuesday, 22 October 1861.
We shot sixteen ducks fit for an alderman's table (he is proverbially a good judge). They were of several kinds, the common, the wood duck, and various descriptions of teal. If it was not a jolly supper, I don't know what constitutes one; but oh for a glass or a dozen of Arthur or Byass or Alsopp or Bass, for the ducks to swim in. Notwithstanding this hiatus valde deflensus in the repast, I don't think that just then any one had a care or wished for a more jovial evening than this, for we sung ourselves to roost.

Wednesday, 23 October 1861.
Awfully hot day, and no wind to help us. We read today the story of poor Kennedy's sad exploring expedition. Poor fellow, perhaps we may all of us share the same fate as his companions, who all died or were killed, like himself, on their perilous journey, with the exception of a black fellow. Watch kept all night; natives close at hand.

Thursday, 24 October 1861.
Very cool the first part of today. Mr McKinlay returned about 2.30 from Lake Kadhiberri, called by him Lake Massacre.

Friday, 25 October 1861.
Camp Lake Buchanan.
General orders today for a party to proceed to Blanchewater with the dispatches for government and home. Small remains of the dead, hair etc taken from the grave at Kadhiberri.

Saturday, 26 October 1861.
All today in camp; some reading, others writing to their friends letters to be posted at Blanchewater by the party now preparing to start.

Sunday, 27 October 1861.
Preparing for the departure of our lads for Blanchewater WyIde, Bell and Hodgkinson, with a native, Jack. They will start to morrow, carrying dispatches, and also to bring up some more stores.

Monday, 28 October 1861.
Our party off for another look at the settled districts; they go with twelve pack horses and four saddle, sixteen in all. The weather very sultry and close. Mr McKinlay says there will be a storm. About 7 pm, it was as black as midnight; at 9 pm a regular westerly gale. All hands turned out; but our little canvas camp was soon flying in all directions. The tents we tried to peg down as fast as a peg drew, but all to no use, they were soon blown down; then came lightning and thunder, and during the flashes could be descried hats, trousers, gaiters, shirts, taking their private airing by themselves, and McKinlay holding on by his tent pole, “There go my trousers”, “There goes my hat” sings out another and so on. Had I the pencil of Crowquill, or the world known George, I might scratch that scene; and although shivering with cold and wet we could not help laughing, the picture was too ludicrous. It soon came to an end, then we tried to settle ourselves somehow or other, but, oh, so wet. It was of no use trying to put up the tents, for they were rent to atoms, and so dark was it that we could not have found a peg for the life of us; so we got out our blankets as well as we could from the debris, and made a camp outside, under the lee of the sheep pen. We were soon asleep in our damp beds, and it continued to rain nearly till 12 o'clock.

Tuesday, 29 October 1861.
Called by Mr McKinlay to loose camels, when we managed to get some blankets from the camp, feeling rather miserable. However the morning was beautifully fine, and soon put life into us. Oh, for something or other said each of us; rum, shrub, or whiskey, brandy spider or sherry-cobbler. We remained cleaning arms, for they were in a frightful state from last nights storm.

Wednesday, 30 October 1861.
Plenty of work today, mending and repairing the damaged tents, putting them up, and drying all our goods etc. The only thing dry was the nest of stores covered with tarpaulin. Laid some poisoned baits for the wild dogs. Flies here by thousands, ants millions; flies in soup and the ants in the tea. It is too bad, I was going to say terrible; in a spoonful of soup you would get, I will not say how many for fear the reader might think I was telling a travellers tale but this I must and will say, that if you stopped you would get no soup at all, for they (the flies) came in as fast as you could take them out.

Thursday, 31 October 1861.
All of us employed in various ways to make our stay here comfortable, as we shall remain till the party returns from Blanchewater, probably more than six weeks. Three of the poisoned baits taken, and found two wild dogs quite dead, and we also lost our own dog Wallace; he must have got hold of one of the baits which had not been taken up, or else one must have fallen from the stump of the tree where they were placed for safety; he died about 5 pm, and was buried in a clump of trees a little south of our camp, the first, and I trust the last, of Mr McKinlay's party. Today we plant a lot of seeds melon, peach, plum and apricot, also some pumpkin. I hope they will grow, as they will be a boon to any poor fellows who may follow us.

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