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Cooper's Creek, Field Notes, 21-29 November 1860.

State Library of Victoria, MS13071.
Subseries 8 : Botanical, Meteorological & Astronomical observations of the Victorian Exploration Expedition.
William John Wills Field Books
Cooper Creek, Field notes No. 5, 24-27 November 1860, ex2008-017, Box 2082/6i.

Cooper's Creek
Field Notes
21st to 29th November 1860

Saturday 24 November 1860.
Started at 5 am from the Depot with McDonagh and two camels to reconnoitre the country to the north we took with us water and provisions for a week. From N around by E to South nothing but sand ridges are visible. over the sand hills to the south may be seen the low stony rises on the south side of Coopers Creek to the west are similar low rises and north of them broken sandstone ranges of a very rugged appearance from NNW to north is a sandstone range high + abrupt to the westward and gradually dipping to the Eastward until it disappears at a point about due north behind the sand hills. a line of Gum or box timber indicates the course of a creek running at the foot of the range there is the appearance of a fine sheet of water in the creek towards north but I imagine it can be only mirage.

[Sunday 25 November 1860]
Long low range sticking up from ESE to N19ºE then a gap and another range from N15º 30’ E to N8ºE from there all around the horizon to west nothing but sand rises except at a point due north where a stripe of [?] may be seen with the glaß but it is too distant to be visible with the naked eye. A line of dense dark timber runs down the valley to the eastward mainly visible mainly parallel with the ranges.

[Monday 26 November 1860]
Permitted the Camels to be out of sight only a few minutes when they made off home and as we found next day travelled all night shewing that they were not quite so much done up as they appeared to be.

Tuesday 27 November 1860.
The camels gave us the slip last night just before we were going to tie them up they had been feeding quietly within our sight only a few minutes previous to our going to fetch them. we searched carefully for them in every direction until late but could see no signs of them and this morning finding by their tracks that they had started off for home just from the spot where we had last seen them I determined on following their tracks as far as possible but being prepared at the same time to continue our journey home if we should fail in finding them. so we packed every thing we could out of reach of native dogs and as much as possible out of sight of the blacks and took our pistols, the pris compaß Box Sextant some bread + dried meat and sixteen pints of water in a goats skin bag we started and followed the camels tracks about five or six miles going steadily SbyE until we came on stony ground when we lost them. we then came on a creek with a stony and sandy bed running in the same direction this we followed down and at a distance of about two miles finding it turn to SSW and stony rises on each side we continued down the flat through which it passed as it offered greater facilities for walking and appeared to be the most likely route for the camels to have taken especially as they were in want of water, at a short distance we came to box trees growing about the creek and here we found cockatoos and several other kinds which made us hope to find water not far off but we followed the creek down about two miles without seeing a drop although we paßed several holes with fine box timber growing about them when at 11h 30m having reached the end of the trees and the creek appearing to run out on the plains we halted intending to proceed in the evening. I have tried the roots of an Eucalyptus somewhat resembling the mallee in growth for water but it is no good. We started again at 4h pm and had not gone a mile when we came to three water holes on the open plain where the creek having run out for a short distance forms again and then again disappears on the plain as before, some ducks in these waterholes flew up the creek when disturbed so I imagine there must be some water yet up near where we found the cockatoos. having eaten a hearty meal here, which I had planned to do before finding water, and replenished our water bag we again started for Coopers Creek which by my account was between 60 + 70 miles distant we walked till 9 pm and then stopped until three in the morning keeping about SbyE in order toe avoid the stony ground we had traversed on the first and second days. We were in this respect very fortunate as we were also in meeting with leß porcupine graß than we did on coming up, the sand hills also were not so high and the graßy flats more extensive so that we found the walking much more pleasant than we had anticipated the only difficulty was the want of water.


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