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Departure from Adelaide

Thursday, 15 August 1861, page 2.

The Burke Relief Expedition.

The first detachment of the Burke Relief Expedition started from Adelaide on Wednesday morning, and the remainder of the party leave by train to-day. The party consists of Mr John McKinlay, leader, and Messrs. Hodgkinson (who goes in charge of the camels), Wyld, R. Pool, Kirby, Middleton, Bell, and Mr Davis, a gentleman who has volunteered his services to the expedition. Mr Davis has had great experience in bush travelling in India, and was, we are informed, connected with the Naval Brigade as a volunteer during the mutiny. Of the other members of the expedition all have, we believe, been accustomed to bush travelling; and Mr McKinlay starts with every confidence in the capabilities of his party for their arduous journey.

As early as 8 o'clock on Wednesday morning crowds of persons of both sexes were to be seen wending their way to the back of the Police Paddock in North-terrace, where the camels are quartered, to witness the equipment of these extraordinary creatures. Although it was known that they were not to start at once, it was arranged that their harnessing should be fitted and adjusted so as to prevent future delay. This work was performed by Mr O H Hodgkinson, and created much amusement. The two animals which have for the past few months been wandering about the bush unrestrained, were the most difficult to manage, and these exhibited such a quarrelsome propensity, that it was found necessary to muzzle them to prevent them from injuring themselves or their keepers. This operation having been satisfactorily completed, the process of saddling was commenced, the tremendous brutes lying down in answer to the 'gee udah' of Mr Hodgkinson, and submitting with tolerable forbearance to have the saddles placed upon their backs and properly adjusted. These equipments were found somewhat imperfect on their arrival from Melbourne, but have been rendered serviceable by Mr Scarborough, of Rundle-street.

The four camels being saddled, they were attached to each other in Indian file, and at about 10 o'clock His Excellency the Governor and Lady MacDonnell, accompanied by Captain Brinkley, the Chief Secretary, and other gentlemen, visited the yards, and inspected the arrangements. This proceeding over, the party proceeded to the Police Paddock, where 22 good strong horses were yarded, and the process of saddling was commenced. 12 of the horses were selected by the leader, and new pack-saddles were fitted to them. Four of the remaining horses were then fitted with riding saddles, and Messrs. Wyld, Pool, Middleton, and Kirby, mounted, and took charge of the remainder. A light spring-cart drawn by a pair of good stout horses was driven by Mr Bell, and this party were started off at about 12 o'clock. They crossed the river below the Police Paddock, and proceeded to Willaston, which will be the first stage of the party.

His Excellency the Governor expressed himself much pleased with the arrangements.

The horses having been dispatched, the camels were again un- packed and paddocked, and were visited by large numbers of spectators during the day.

The whole party expect to leave Kapunda about Saturday on their journey to their interior.

Saturday, 17 August 1861, page 2.

The Burke Relief Expedition.

On Thursday afternoon the last detachment of the Burke Relief Expedition started from Adelaide, en route for the north. The party consisted of the leader, Mr John McKinlay, and Messrs. Hodgkinson and Davis, and had in charge the whole of the baggage and stores, also the four camels. These animals were taken from the Police Barracks at about 12 o'clock, and removed to the Railway Station, where they were safely placed in two trucks, which had been fitted up expressly to receive them.

On the previous day the animals were again inspected by His Excellency the Governor at the Police Barracks, and considerable amusement was occasioned by His Excellency mounting one of them and riding it round the barrack yard. Lady McDonnell was also present on this occasion.

A large number of persons were present at the Railway Station, at half-past 4 o'clock, to witness the departure of the party - among them the Hon the Commissioner of Crown Lands; who has from the commencement exhibited the greatest interest in the arrangements for the departure of the party, personally superintending the purchase and packing of the stores and equipment.

On the train leaving the Railway Station three hearty British cheers were given for the expedition, and a genuine 'God, bless them' burst from every lip as the last carriage passed the end of the platform.

We understand that a large party of gentlemen intend leaving by the train for Kapunda to-day to witness the departure of the expedition from that point, which will take place early in the afternoon.

Monday, 19 August 1861, page 3.

The Burke Relief Party: Departure from Kapunda.

The South Australian Expedition in search of Mr Burke ia now fairly on its way. As our readers are already aware, the advanced party left Adelaide for Kapunda on Thursday last; and, on Friday afternoon, Mr McKinlay, with Mr Hodgkinson and the four camels, followed, via the Northern Railway. All arrived safely at Kapunda, and, as may be imagined, the good folks of the township manifested considerable interest in watching the movements and studying the appearance of the so-called 'ships of the desert.' On Saturday morning, final preparations for a start were made. The camels 'kits' were packed and the pack-horses were each subjected to a moderate burthen.

The Hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands and Mr Wildman arrived at Kapunda by the early train from Adelaide, and both gentlemen were busily occupied throughout the day in assisting Mr McKinlay in his final arrangements. Indeed, Mr Strangways must have the credit of having, from the moment it was first determined to despatch the Expedition, been most industrious and unremitting in his personal exertions to ensure every possible completeness in the equipment of the party.

It was determined that the start from Kapunda should be made at 4 pm. on Saturday, and that the whole party should camp for the night at Anlaby, Mr Frederick Dutton's station, about 9 miles north of the township. In anticipation of this a large number of the inhabitants of Kapunda and the neighborhood assembled in the Sir John Franklin Inn yard, where the camels had been quartered on Friday night. As it was market day there were even more people present than could have been otherwise expected. Much interest was evinced by the spectators in observing how unconditionally obedient the camels were to every word of command spoken by Mr Hodgkinson. The complete mastery which this gentleman has evidently acquired over his ungainly but useful subjects speaks well for his tact and determination.

At 4 o'clock, as the party were about to start, the axletree of the cart in which some of the heavier baggage is to be conveyed as far as possible, was sprung in crossing a rut. Thus circumstance occasioned a delay of a few minutes, and as it was necessary to put in a new axle, Mr McKinlay determined for that purpose to remain at Kapunda with one of the men until the following morning, and allow the main party to proceed at once.

At ten minutes past 4, Mr Hodgkinson with the camels, and Messrs Middleton, Kirby, Wyld, Bell, and Davies (the volunteer) with 18 horses, left the Sir John Franklin yard. As they emerged into the street the spectators greeted them with three hearty cheers, and there were many who bade the adventurers a fervent 'God speed' on their way. Four horses were left behind, with which Mr McKinlay and Poole were to go on with the cart to Anlaby on Suuday morning at daybreak. It was intended to make another stage of about 20 miles from Anlaby on Sunday, and to commence on Monday the ordinary stages of 25 miles daily. The selected route is by Stuckey's crossing of Lake Torrens, Lake Hope, and the new lakes recently discovered in that locality. The cart containing the heavier baggage and some tarpaulins to be used as tents will be taken as far as possible, but it is feared it will be impracticable to proceed with it further than Stuckey's Station. If Gregory's crossing of Lake Torrens had been selected, the cart might have been taken on to Cooper's Creek, but Stuckey's crossing has been determined on as being the shortest and most expeditious route. There is, however, on that route a chain of sand hills which it is expected will present an insurmountable obstacle to the further progress of the cart.

Mr Strangways anticipates that the expedition will reach Cooper's Creek within 30 days, and probably before Mr Howitt's party from Melbourne will have arrived there. A quantity of provisions, comprising three-quarters of a ton of flour, two bags of sugar, half chest of tea, 40 lbs, of soap, 50 lbs of tobacco, one box of sausages, and one case of horse-shoes, were sent on to Blanchwater by the Lubra, about a fortnight ago. Mr Hodgkinson, who goes as draftsman to the party, is also in charge of the camels, and has been appointed second in command of the expedition. We should not omit to mention that every necessary assistance was rendered to Mr McKinlay on Friday and Saturday, by the railway authorities.


Wednesday, 9 October 1861, page 2.
Mr Burke's Party

In striking contrast with the report of Mr Stuart's success and return is the intelligence received from the north, concerning what appear to be the remains of the great expedition which twelve months ago left Melbourne under the command of Mr Burke.

Letters of which we give copies below, have reached Adelaide, containing statements which seem to show that Mr Burke and the three men who, with horse, camels, and 3 months' provisions, started from their depot at Cooper's Creek on the 16th December last, were soon stopped by the difficulties of their enterprise, and that they have since been keeping themselves alive by subsisting on fishes caught in another part of Cooper's Creek or in one of the adjacent lakes.

The following letter, with the particulars of these statements, were read on Thursday by the Commissioner of Crown Lands in the House of Assembly:

Wirrilpa, 12th September, 1861.

I have the honor to forward the following particulars gathered from the blacks, seeming to refer to Mr Burke and party. A black-fellow called Sambo, who has lately come in from Lake Hope, brought with him the hair of two white men, which he showed to the cook and stockman at Tooncatchin. He said it was given to him by other blacks, who told him that there white men living much further out than where he had been. Frank James, one of Mr Butler's stockmen, saw Sambo again on the 6th instant, and tried to get the hair from him. He had unfortunately given it away to other blacks. James promised him tobacco for it, and he has promised to get it again. Sambo says that the white men are naked, and have no firearms or horses, but animals, which from his description are evidently camels; that they sleep on a raft, which they built on the water. They live on fish, which they catch with nets made of grass. Sambo says that the other blacks told him that the white men arrived there this winter. According to Sambo, the people are 20 sleeps from Tooncatchin by way of Lake Hope Creek. I do not think their sleeps on the average exceed ten (10) miles, so it is probable that they are on or near Cooper's Creek. Sambo is quite willing to go out all the way with a party of white men. He also says that the blacks on Lake Hope Creek are afraid of these white men. I received the above information from Mr H Butler, Frank James and Clelland, on my arrival at Blanche on the 8th instant. Knowing that Mr McKinlay and party were on their way, I accordingly left Blanche on the 9th instant, and I met Mr McKinlay and party today on Bandnoota Plain, 145 miles south of Blanche, when I put that gentleman in possession of the above particulars.

I have, etc.
James Howe, Police-trooper.

To George Hamilton Esq, JP, Inspector of Police.

The statement here given by the black-fellow Sambo, must not be rejected on account of its extraordinary character. It is difficult to understand how Burke and his men should have become naked and deprived of their arms in the course of their short journey from the starting place on Cooper's Creek, and equally so to explain in what way the black-fellow got possession of the hair of the white men. It may have been perhaps, that the unfortunate explorers themselves gave this proof of their existence to the black-fellows in the hope that it might be passed on from one to the other until it should reach the hands of white men, and by such means bring them assistance.

The only other way to account for the circumstance is that two of the party may have died, but this is not probable, and such a fact would most likely have become fully known to the natives and would have been mentioned by them. However, strange is this part of the story is, there are other parts which strikingly agree with the probabilities that Burke and his party may have seen as described in the letter, and may now be anxiously looking for relief. The circumstances in favour of this supposition are that the locality mentioned, the time at which the party arrived there, and the description of the animals seen with them, all agree with the movements and character of Mr Burke's expedition. It is known that he had heard of Mr Stuart's north-western route before quitting his depot on Cooper's Creek, and it was imagined that he would certainly strive to get upon that route. In order to do this he must have gone into the country described by the black-fellow, and there, badly provisioned and badly equipped, it is not surprising that he should have found his onward progress checked and his retreat cut off.

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