EXPLORATIONS IN AUSTRALIA.
JOHN McDOUALL STUART
DURING THE YEARS
1858, 1859, 1860, 1861, & 1862,
WHEN HE FIXED THE CENTRE OF THE CONTINENT AND SUCCESSFULLY CROSSED IT FROM SEA TO SEA.
EDITED FROM MR. STUART'S MANUSCRIPT BY WILLIAM HARDMAN, M.A., F.R.G.S., &c.
With Maps, a Photographic Portrait of Mr. Stuart, and twelve Engravings drawn on wood by George French Angas, from Sketches taken during the different expeditions.
(SANS CHANGER. S.O. AND CO.)
Since the first edition of this work was published Mr. Stuart has arrived in England, and at a recent meeting of the Geographical Society he announced that, taking advantage of his privilege as a discoverer, he had christened the rich tract of country which he has opened up to the South Australians Alexandra Land.
December 1st, 1864.
PREFACE BY THE EDITOR.
The explorations of Mr. John McDouall Stuart may truly be said, without disparaging his brother explorers, to be amongst the most important in the history of Australian discovery. In 1844 he gained his first experiences under the guidance of that distinguished explorer, Captain Sturt, whose expedition he accompanied in the capacity of draughtsman. Leaving Lake Torrens on the left, Captain Sturt and his party passed up the Murray and the Darling, until finding that the latter would carry him too far from the northern course, which was the one he had marked out for himself, he turned up a small tributary known to the natives as the Williorara. The water of this stream failing him, he pushed on over a barren tract, until he suddenly came upon a fruitful and well-watered spot, which he named the Rocky Glen. In this picturesque glen they were detained for six months, during which time no rain fell. The heat of the sun was so intense that every screw in their boxes was drawn, and all horn handles and combs split into fine laminae. The lead dropped from their pencils, their finger-nails became as brittle as glass, and their hair, and the wool on their sheep, ceased to grow. Scurvy attacked them all, and Mr. Poole, the second in command, died. In order to avoid the scorching rays of the sun, they had excavated an underground chamber, to which they retired during the heat of the day.
When the long-expected rain fell, they pushed on for fifty miles to another suitable halting-place, which was called Park Depot. From this depot Captain Sturt made two attempts to reach the Centre of the continent. He started, accompanied by four of his party, advancing over a country which resembled an ocean whose mighty billows, fifty or sixty feet high, had become suddenly hardened into long parallel ridges of solid sand. The abrupt termination of this was succeeded at two hundred miles by what is now so well known as Sturt's Stony Desert, to which frequent allusion is made by Mr. Stuart in his journals. After thirty miles more, this stony desert ceased with equal abruptness, and was followed by a vast plain of dried mud, which Captain Sturt describes as "a boundless ploughed field, on which floods had settled and subsided." After advancing two hundred miles beyond the Stony Desert, and to within one hundred and fifty miles of the Centre of the continent, they were compelled to return to Park Depot, where they arrived in a most exhausted condition.
A short rest at the Depot was followed by another expedition, Captain Sturt being on this occasion accompanied by Mr. Stuart and two men. The seventh day of their journey brought them to the banks of a fine creek, now so well known as Cooper Creek in connection with the fate of those unfortunate explorers, Burke and Wills. At two hundred miles from Cooper Creek Captain Sturt and his party were again met by the Stony Desert, but slightly varied in its aspect. Before abandoning his attempt to proceed, the leader of the expedition laid the matter before his companions, and he writes as follows: "I should be doing an injustice to Mr. Stuart and my men, if I did not here mention that I told them the position we were placed in, and the chance on which our safety would depend if we went on. They might well have been excused if they expressed an opinion contrary to such a course; but the only reply they made me was to assure me that they were ready and willing to follow me to the last."
With much reluctance, however, Captain Sturt determined to return to Cooper Creek without delay. They travelled night and day without interruption, and on the morning of their arrival at the creek, one of those terrible hot north winds, so much dreaded by the colonists, began to blow with unusual violence. Lucky was it for them that it had not overtaken them in the Desert, for they could scarcely have survived it. The heat was awful; a thermometer, graduated to 127 degrees, burst, though sheltered in the fork of a large tree, and their skin was blistered by a torrent of fine sand, which was driven along by the fury of the hurricane. They still had fearful difficulties to encounter, but after an absence of nineteen months they returned safely to Adelaide.
The discouraging account of the interior which was brought by Captain Sturt did not prevent other explorers from making further attempts; but the terrible fate of Kennedy and his party on York Peninsula, and the utter disappearance of Leichardt's expedition, both in the same year (1848), had a very decided influence in checking the progress of Australian exploration. Seven years later, in 1855, Mr. Gregory landed on the north-west coast for the purpose of exploring the Victoria River, and after penetrating as far south as latitude 20 degrees 16 minutes, longitude 131 degrees 44 minutes, he was compelled to proceed to the head of the Gulf of Carpentaria, and thence to Sydney along the route taken by Dr. Leichardt in 1844. Shortly after his return Mr. Gregory was despatched by the Government of New South Wales in 1857, to find, if possible, some trace of the lost expedition of the lamented Leichardt; his efforts, however, did nothing to clear up the mystery that enshrouds the fate of that celebrated explorer.* (* It is possible that Mr. McKinlay has been hasty in the opinion he formed from the graves and remains of white men shown to him by Keri Keri, and the story related of their massacre. May they not belong to Leichardt's party?)
The colonists of South Australia have always been distinguished for promoting by private aid and public grant the cause of exploration. They usually kept somebody in the field, whose discoveries were intended to throw light on the caprices of Lake Torrens, at one time a vast inland sea, at another a dry desert of stones and baked mud. Hack, Warburton, Freeling, Babbage, and other well-known names, are associated with this particular district, and, in 1858, Stuart started to the north-west of the same country, accompanied by one white man (Forster) and a native. In this, the first expedition which he had the honour to command, he was aided solely by his friend Mr. William Finke, but in his later journeys Mr. James Chambers also bore a share of the expense.* (* It is greatly to be regretted that both these gentlemen are since dead. Mr. Chambers did not survive to witness the success of his friend's later expeditions, and the news of Mr. Finke's death reached us while these sheets were going through the press.) This journey was commenced in May, 1858, from Mount Eyre in the north to Denial and Streaky Bays on the west coast of the Port Lincoln country. On this journey Mr. Stuart accomplished one of the most arduous feats in all his travels, having, with one man only (the black having basely deserted them), pushed through a long tract of dense scrub and sand with unusual rapidity, thus saving his own life and that of his companion. During this part of the journey they were without food or water, and his companion was thoroughly dispirited and despairing of success. This expedition occupied him till September, 1858, and was undertaken with the object of examining the country for runs. On his return the South Australian Government presented him with a large grant of land in the district which he had explored.
Mr. Stuart now turned his attention to crossing the interior, and, with the assistance of his friends Messrs. Chambers and Finke, he was enabled to make two preparatory expeditions in the vicinity of Lake Torrens—from April 2nd to July 3rd, 1859, and from November 4th, 1859, to January 21st, 1860. The fourth expedition started from Chambers Creek (discovered by Mr. Stuart in 1858, and since treated as his head-quarters for exploring purposes), on March 2nd, 1860, and consisted of Mr. Stuart and two men, with thirteen horses. Proceeding steadily northwards, until the country which his previous explorations had rendered familiar was left far behind, on April 23rd the great explorer calmly records in his Journal the following important announcement: "To-day I find from my observations of the sun that I am now camped in the CENTRE OF AUSTRALIA." One of the greatest problems of Australian discovery was solved! The Centre of the continent was reached, and, instead of being an inhospitable desert or an inland sea, it was a splendid grass country through which ran numerous watercourses.
Leaving the Centre, a north-westerly course was followed, but, after various repulses, a north-easterly course eventually carried the party as far as latitude 18 degrees 47 minutes south, longitude 134 degrees, when they were driven back by the hostility of the natives. As has already been stated, Mr. Gregory in 1855, starting from the north-west coast, had penetrated to the south as low as latitude 20 degrees 16 minutes, longitude 127 degrees 35 minutes. Mr. Stuart had now reached a position about half-way between Gregory's lowest southward point and the head of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Without actually reaching the country explored by Gregory, he had overlapped his brother explorer's position by one degree and a half, or more than one hundred miles, and was about two hundred and fifty miles in actual distance from the nearest part of the shores of the Gulf. It is important to remark that the attack of the savages which forced Mr. Stuart to return occurred on June 26th, 1860, so that he had virtually crossed the continent two months before Messrs. Burke and Wills had left Melbourne.* (* They did not leave Cooper Creek until December 14th, rather more than a fortnight before Mr. Stuart started on his fifth expedition.)
On New Year's day 1861, Mr. Stuart again left Adelaide, aided this time by a grant from the Colonial Government of 2500 pounds, in addition to the assistance of his well-tried friends Messrs. Chambers and Finke. He made his former position with ease, and advanced about one hundred miles beyond it, to latitude 17 degrees, longitude 133 degrees; but an impenetrable scrub barred all further progress, and failing provisions, etc., compelled him, after such prolonged and strenuous efforts that his horses on one occasion were one hundred and six hours without water, most reluctantly to return. The expedition arrived safely in the settled districts in September, and the determined explorer, after a delay of less than a month, was again despatched by the South Australian Government along what had now become to him a familiar road. This time success crowned his efforts; a passage was found northwards through the opposing scrub, and leaving the Gulf of Carpentaria far to the right, the Indian Ocean itself was reached. Other explorers had merely seen the rise and fall of the tide in rivers, boggy ground and swamps intervening and cutting off all chance of ever seeing the sea. But Stuart actually stood on its shore and washed his hands in its waters! What a pleasure it must have been to the leader when, knowing well from his reckoning that the sea must be close at hand, but keeping it a secret from all except Thring and Auld, he witnessed the joyful surprise of the rest of the party!
The expedition reached Adelaide safely, although for a long time the leader's life was despaired of, the constant hardships of so many journeys with scarcely any intermission having brought on a terrible attack of scurvy. The South Australian Government in 1859 liberally rewarded Mr. Stuart and his party for their successful enterprise.* (* Mr. Stuart's qualities as a practised Bushman are unrivalled, and he has always succeeded in bringing his party back without loss of life.) On the 10th of March a resolution was passed to the effect that a sum of 3500 pounds should be paid as a reward to John McDouall Stuart, Esquire, and the members of his party, in the following proportions: Mr. Stuart 2000 pounds; Mr. Keckwick 500 pounds; Messrs. Thring and Auld 200 pounds each; and Messrs. King, Billiatt, Frew, Nash, McGorrerey, and Waterhouse, 100 pounds each. Perhaps this is the most fitting place to express Mr. Stuart's appreciation of the honour done him by the Royal Geographical Society of London, in awarding him their gold medal and presenting him with a gold watch. He wishes particularly to express his hearty thanks to Sir Roderick Murchison, and the other distinguished members of the society, for the lively interest they have evinced in his welfare.
Mr. Stuart's experiences have led him to form a very decided opinion as to the cause of the well-known hot winds of Australia, so long the subject of scientific speculation. North and north-west of Flinders Range are large plains covered with stones, extending as far as latitude 25 degrees. To the north of that, although the sun was intensely hot, there were no hot winds; in fact from that parallel of latitude to the Indian Ocean, either going or returning, they were not met with. "On reaching latitude 27 degrees on my return," writes Mr. Stuart, "I found the hot winds prevailing again as on my outward journey. I saw no sandy desert to which these hot winds have been attributed, but, on lifting some of the stones that were lying on the surface,* I found them so hot that I was obliged to drop them immediately. (* On the surface, as I suppose, of the large plains North of Flinders Range. ED.) It is my opinion that when a north wind blows across those stone-covered plains, it collects the heat from them, and the air, becoming rarified, is driven on southwards with increased vehemence. To the north of latitude 25 degrees, although exposure to the sun in the middle of the day was very oppressive, yet the moment we got under the shade of a tree we felt quite alive again; there was none of that languid feeling which is experienced in the south during a hot wind, as for example that which blew on the morning after reaching the Hamilton,* in latitude 26 degrees 40 minutes. (* Journal 1861 to 1862.) That was one of the hottest winds I ever experienced. I had the horses brought up at 7 o'clock, intending to proceed, but seeing there was a very hot wind coming on, I had them turned out again. It was well I did so, for before 10 o'clock all the horses were in small groups under the trees, and the men lying under the shade of blankets unable to do anything, so overpowering was the heat." Unfortunately, Mr. Stuart had no thermometer.
Mr. Stuart is anxious to direct attention to the establishment of a Telegraph line along his route. On this subject he writes as follows:—
"On my arrival in Adelaide from my last journey I found a great deal of anxiety felt as to whether a line could be carried across to the mouth of the Adelaide river. There would be a few difficulties in the way, but none which could not be overcome and made to repay the cost of such an undertaking. The first would be in crossing from Mr. Glen's station to Chambers Creek, in finding timber sufficiently long for poles, supposing that no more favourable line than I travelled over could be adopted, but I have good reason for supposing that there is plenty of suitable timber in the range and creek, not more than ten miles off my track: the distance between the two places is one hundred miles. From Chambers Creek through the spring country to the Gap in Hanson Range the cartage would be a little farther, in consequence of the timber being scarce in some places. There are many creeks in which it would be found, but I had not time to examine them in detail. Another difficulty would be in crossing the McDonnell Range, which is rough and ragged, but there is a great quantity of timber in the Hugh; the distance to this in a straight line is not more than seven miles; from thence to the Roper River there are a few places where the cartage might be from ten to twenty miles, that is in crossing the plains where only stunted gum-trees grow, but tall timber can be obtained from the rising ground around them. From latitude 16 degrees 30 minutes south to the north coast, there would be no difficulty whatever, as there is an abundance of timber everywhere. I am promised information, through the kindness of Mr. Todd, of the Telegraph department, as to the average cost of establishing the lines through the outer districts of this colony, and it is my intention to make a calculation of the cost of a line on my route, by which the comparative merits and expense will be tested, and I am of opinion I shall be able to show most favourable results. I should have been glad for this information to have accompanied my works, but I find I cannot postpone them longer for that purpose, as parties have already taken advantage of the delay occasioned by my illness at the time of, and since, my arrival home to collect what scraps of information they could obtain, with the intention of publishing them as my travels. I leave the reward of such conduct to a discriminating public; I shall not fail to carry out my intention with regard to a Telegraph line; and should I have no opportunity of submitting it to the public, I shall take care to advance the matter in such channels as may be most likely to lead to a successful issue. I beg reference to my map accompanying this work, which will at once show the favourable geographical situation of the Adelaide River for a settlement, and the short and safe route it opens up for communication and trading with India: indeed when I look upon the present system of shipping to that important empire, I cannot over-estimate the advantages that such an extended intercourse would create."
Mr. Stuart is also very anxious for the formation of a new colony on the scene of his discoveries on the River Adelaide, and would fain have been one of the first pioneers of such an enterprise, but his health has been so much shattered by his last journey that he can only now hope to see younger men follow in the path which he had made his own. He writes as follows:—
"Judging from the experience I have had in travelling through the Continent of Australia for the last twenty-two years, and also from the description that other explorers have given of the different portions they have examined in their journeys, I have no hesitation in saying, that the country that I have discovered on and around the banks of the Adelaide River is more favourable than any other part of the continent for the formation of a new colony. The soil is generally of the richest nature ever formed for the benefit of mankind: black and alluvial, and capable of producing anything that could be desired, and watered by one of the finest rivers in Australia. This river was found by Lieutenant Helpman to be about four to seven fathoms deep at the mouth, and at one hundred and twenty miles up (the furthest point he reached) it was found to be about seven fathoms deep and nearly one hundred yards broad, with a clear passage all the way up. I struck it about this point, and followed it down, encamping fifteen miles from its mouth, and found the water perfectly fresh, and the river broader and apparently very deep; the country around most excellent, abundantly supplied with fresh water, running in many flowing streams into the Adelaide River, the grass in many places growing six feet high, and the herbage very close—a thing seldom seen in a new country. The timber is chiefly composed of stringy-bark, gum, myall, casurina, pine, and many other descriptions of large timber, all of which will be most useful to new colonists. There is also a plentiful supply of stone in the low rises suitable for building purposes, and any quantity of bamboo can be obtained from the river from two to fifty feet long. I measured one fifteen inches in circumference, and saw many larger. The river abounds in fish and waterfowl of all descriptions. On my arrival from the coast I kept more to the eastward of my north course, with the intention of seeing further into the country. I crossed the sources of the running streams before alluded to, and had great difficulty in getting more to the west. They take their rise from large bodies of springs coming from extensive grassy plains, which proves there must be a very considerable underground drainage, as there are no hills of sufficient elevation to cause the supply of water in these streams. I feel confident that, if a new settlement is formed in this splendid country, in a few years it will become one of the brightest gems in the British Crown. To South Australia and some of the more remote Australian colonies the benefits to be derived from the formation of such a colony would be equally advantageous, creating an outlet for their surplus beef and mutton, which would be eagerly consumed by the races in the Indian Islands, and payment made by the shipment of their useful ponies, and the other valuable products of those islands; indeed I see one of the finest openings I am aware of for trading between these islands and a colony formed where proposed."
Mr. Stuart was accompanied on his last journey by Mr. Waterhouse, a clever naturalist, whose report to the Commissioner of Crown Lands of South Australia, although too long for insertion here, is full of most interesting information. Unfortunately, the interests of geographical science were apparently lost sight of in the hurry to effect the grand object of the expedition, namely, to cross from sea to sea. Thermometers were forgotten; two mounted maps of the country from Chambers Creek to Newcastle Water, in a tin case, never came to hand, and the expedition was provided with no means of estimating even the approximate height of the elevated land or of the mountains in the interior. As Mr. Waterhouse remarks: "The thermometers were much needed, as it would have been very desirable to have kept a register of the temperature, and to have tested occasionally the degree of heat at which water boiled on the high table lands. The loss of the maps prevented my marking down at the time on the maps the physical features of the country, and the distribution of its fauna and flora."
Mr. Waterhouse divides the country into three divisions. The first, which extends from Goolong Springs to a little north of the Gap in Hanson Range, latitude 27 degrees 18 minutes 23 seconds, may be called the spring and saltbush country. The second division commences north of the Gap in Hanson Range, and extends to the southern side of Newcastle Water, latitude 17 degrees 36 minutes 29 seconds. It is marked by great scarcity of water—in fact, there are few places where water can be relied on as permanent—and also by the presence of the porcupine grass (Triodia pungens of Gregory, and Spinifex of Stuart), which is the prevailing flora. The third division commences from the north end of Newcastle Water, latitude 17 degrees 16 minutes 20 seconds, and extends to Van Diemen Gulf, latitude 12 degrees 12 minutes 30 seconds; it comprises a large part of Sturt Plains, with soil formed of a fine lacustrine deposit, the valleys of the Roper filled with a luxuriant tropical vegetation, and thence to the Adelaide River and the sea-coast.
On visiting Hergott Springs, Mr. Waterhouse learnt that Mr. Burtt, whose station* is only a few miles distant, in opening these springs discovered some fossil bones, casts of which were forwarded to Professor Owen, who pronounced them to be the remains of a gigantic extinct marsupial, named Diprotodon Australis. (* Hergott Springs were only discovered and named by Stuart three years before, yet we now find a station close by them. The explorer is not far ahead of his fellow-colonists, as is well remarked by the Edinburgh Review for July, 1862: "Australian occupation has kept close on the heels of Australian discovery.") Bones of this animal have also been found in a newer tertiary formation in New South Wales. Mr. Waterhouse considers that a great tertiary drift extends over this part of the country, obscuring and concealing at no great depth below the surface many springs, which may hereafter be discovered as the country becomes better known.
The Louden Spa is a hot spring arising out of a small hillock, and proceeds from the fissures of volcanic rock. This water is medicinal, but not disagreeable to the taste: the damper made with it was very light, and tasted like soda-bread.
In his remarks on the second division Mr. Waterhouse states much that is valuable. He estimates the height of Mount Hay at two thousand feet, regarding it as the highest point of the McDonnell Range, which is the natural centre of this part of the continent. Mr. Waterhouse only saw Chambers Pillar from a distance, but he had an opportunity of examining a smaller hill of the same character, and found it to be composed of a soft loose argillaceous rock, at the top of which was a thin stratum of a hard siliceous rock, much broken up. "The isolated hills appear to have been at some remote period connected, but from the soft and loose nature of the lower rock meeting with the action of water, had arisen a succession of landslips. These have been washed away and others have followed in their turn; the upper rock, from being undermined, has fallen down and broken up, supplying the peculiar siliceous stones so widely distributed on parts of the surface of the country."
The vegetation of this district is poor; the myall is scarce, but the mulga (Acacia aneura) generally plentiful. Both these shrubs are species of acacia, the myall being of much larger growth and longer lived than the mulga. Nutritious grass is seldom found except in the immediate vicinity of the creeks, and the scrubs are very extensive.
Mr. Waterhouse collected a great number of specimens of natural history, but, from want of the convenience for carrying them, many of the more delicate objects were broken.
In the Appendix will be found some remarks by Mr. John Gould, F.R.S., etc., on the birds collected by Mr. Waterhouse during Mr. Stuart's expedition, including a description of a new and beautiful parrakeet. There are also descriptions of new species of Freshwater Shells from the same expedition, by Mr. Arthur Adams, F.L.S., and Mr. G. French Angas, to the skill of which latter gentleman this work is indebted for its admirable illustrations.
Dr. Muller, the Government Botanist, Director of the Botanic Garden at Melbourne, in his report to both Houses of the Legislature of Victoria, April 15th, 1863, says, "A series of all the plants collected during Mr. J.M. Stuart's last expedition was presented by the Hon. H. Strangways, Commissioner of Crown Lands for South Australia, and those of the former expeditions of that highly distinguished explorer, by the late J. Chambers, Esquire, of North Adelaide." Of this collection, Dr. Muller has furnished a systematic enumeration, which will be found in the Appendix. This enumeration must not, however, be accepted as final, for Dr. Muller has forwarded all the specimens to England for the inspection of Mr. Bentham, the learned President of the Linnaean Society of London, who is now elaborating his great and exhaustive work on the Flora of Australia, the second volume of which will shortly be before the public.
JOURNAL OF MR. STUART'S EXPEDITION TO THE NORTH-WEST. MAY TO SEPTEMBER, 1858.
JOURNAL OF MR. STUART'S SECOND EXPEDITION (IN THE VICINITY OF LAKE TORRENS). APRIL TO JULY, 1859.
JOURNAL OF MR. STUART'S THIRD EXPEDITION (IN THE VICINITY OF LAKE TORRENS). NOVEMBER, 1859, TO JANUARY, 1860.
JOURNAL OF MR. STUART'S FOURTH EXPEDITION (FIXING THE CENTRE OF THE CONTINENT). FROM MARCH TO SEPTEMBER, 1860.
JOURNAL OF MR. STUART'S FIFTH EXPEDITION. FROM NOVEMBER, 1860, TO SEPTEMBER, 1861.
JOURNAL OF MR. STUART'S SUCCESSFUL EXPEDITION ACROSS THE CONTINENT OF AUSTRALIA. FROM DECEMBER, 1861, TO DECEMBER, 1862.
(LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
PORTRAIT OF JOHN MACDOUALL STUART. Adelaide, April 1863. Professor Hall. Photograph.
SKETCH MAP OF AUSTRALIA, SHOWING THE POSITION OF MR. STUART'S ROUTE.
NORTH-WEST OF STUART'S CREEK.
NORTH-WEST POINT OF LAKE TORRENS.
THE HERMIT HILL AND FINNISS SPRINGS.
SOUTH SHORE OF LAKE EYRE.
CENTRAL MOUNT STUART.
TABLE LAND AND VALLEY OF THE ADELAIDE.
PLANTING THE FLAG ON THE SHORES OF THE INDIAN OCEAN.)
EXPLORATIONS IN AUSTRALIA.
JOURNAL OF MR. STUART'S EXPEDITION TO THE NORTH-WEST. MAY TO SEPTEMBER, 1858.
On the 14th of May, 1858, Mr. Stuart started from Oratunga (the head station of Mr. John Chambers), accompanied by Mr. Barker, with six horses, and all that was requisite (with one important exception, as will be seen hereafter), for an excursion to the north-west of Swinden's Country. They arrived at Aroona the same evening. On the following day (the 15th) they made Morleeanna Creek, and reached Ootaina on the 16th, about 7 p.m. Here they remained for a couple of days, as sufficient rain had not fallen to enable them to proceed. On the afternoon of the 19th they arrived at Mr. Sleep's, who informed them that Mr. M. Campbell had returned from the West, being hard pushed for water; very little rain having fallen to the west. The next day (20th) Mr. Stuart arrived at Mr. Louden's, but, in consequence of some difficulties about the horses, he returned to Ootaina. Various preparations, combined with want of rain, compelled him to delay his start until the 10th of June. Here the journal commences:—
Thursday, 10th June, 1858. Started from Ootaina at 1 p.m. for Beda. Camped on the plain, about thirteen miles from Mount Eyre.
Friday, 11th June, West Plain. Made Mudleealpa at 11 a.m. The horses would not drink the water. Proceeded for about five miles towards Beda. The plains are fearfully dry; they have the appearance as if no rain had fallen here for a long time, and I am very much afraid there will be no water at Beda. If such should be the case, the horses will suffer too much in the beginning of their journey to be without a drink to-night. I think it will be best to return to Mudleealpa, leave our saddles, rations, etc. there, and drive the horses back to water. I sent Mr. Forster back with them, telling him if he can find no water between this and Mr. Sleep's, to take them there, remain for the night, give them a drink in the morning, and return; we shall then be able to make a fresh start to-morrow. Bearings: Mount Arden, 154 degrees 30 minutes; Mount Eyre, 77 degrees 30 minutes; Beda Hill, 272 degrees; Mount Elder, 64 degrees 50 minutes; Dutchman's Stern, 162 degrees 15 minutes.
Saturday, 12th June, Mudleealpa. In examining the creek a little higher up, we found another well. By cleaning it out, the water is drinkable. The horses did not arrive until it was too late to start, and having water here now, that they can drink, we camped here another night.
Sunday, 13th June, Mudleealpa. Started for Beda. Some of the horses would not drink the water, and others drank very little: they will be glad to drink far worse than this before they come back, or I am much mistaken. Arrived at Beda at sundown. I was right in my opinion; no fresh water to be found; nothing but salt, salter than the sea. I can see nothing of Mr. Babbage's* encampment; he must be higher up the creek. All the country we have come over to-day is very dry. (* It will probably be recollected that Mr. Babbage was sent out by the Government to make a north-west course through the continent, but, when at the Elizabeth, he made an unaccountable detour, and found himself at Port Augusta, his original starting-point. On my return from this journey he called on me at Mount Arden, when I furnished him with such information as he required, and he again started, and made Chambers' Creek, which I had previously found and named after my old friend, Mr. James Chambers, but which he called Stuart's Creek in acknowledgment of my information, etc. J. McD. Stuart.)
Monday, 14th June, Beda. This morning we have searched all round, but can find no fresh water, although there are numerous places that would retain water if any quantity had fallen. Mr. Forster, whom I had sent up the creek to Mr. Babbage's, to inquire if there was any water at Pernatta, has returned with the information that Mr. B. was up there with all his horses, and that there was still a little water, but not much. Started at 11.30 a.m. for that place; camped in the sand hills one hour after dark. Here we found some pig-faces* which the horses eat freely. (* These pig-faces belong to the Mesembryaceae, of which the common ice-plant of our gardens is an example.) There is a great deal of moisture in them, and they are a first-rate thing for thirsty horses; besides, they have a powerful diuretic effect. I was unable to fix Beda Hill, all my time being taken up in looking for water, but I hope to get its position at Pernatta. The country was very heavy—sand hills.
Tuesday, 15th June, Sand Hills. Started at break of day for Pernatta. About 10 a.m. met Mr. Babbage's two men returning with some of the horses for rations. They informed me that the water was nearly all gone, but that there was plenty in the Elizabeth, nineteen miles from Pernatta. I intended to keep on the track, but our black insisted that Pernatta lay through a gap, and not round the bluff. I allowed him to have his own way. Our route was through a very stony saddle. When there we saw a gum creek, and made for it; when we arrived at the creek he told us that was Pernatta. We looked for water, and found a little hole, which, to our great disappointment, contained salt water. Could see nothing of Mr. Babbage's camp. I then asked our black where there was another water; he said, "Down the creek," which we followed. He took us to five or six water holes, with native names, every one dry. The last one he called Yolticourie. It being now within an hour of sundown, I would follow him no longer, but unsaddled, and told Mr. Forster to take the black and the horses, and to steer for the bluff; if he found no water between, to intersect Mr. Babbage's tracks, and follow them up and get water. I remained with our provisions. The black fellow evidently does not know the country. I am sorry that I have taken him with me. I think I shall send him back; he is of little use in assisting to get the horses in the morning.
Wednesday, 16th June, Yolticourie. The horses have returned; they found no water last night; they were obliged to camp for the night, it being so dark, but they found Mr. Babbage's camp very early. The horses drank all the water. I was wrong in blaming the black fellow; he took us to the RIGHT Pernatta. It is another water that Mr. B. is encamped at. He moves to-day for the Elizabeth, which I also will do. He found the remains of poor Coulthard yesterday. We must have passed quite close to them in our search for water. He has sent for me to come and assist at the burial. It being so late in the day (12 o'clock), and the horses requiring more water, and he having four men besides himself, I do not see that I can be of any use, and it might cause me to lose another day, and the horses to be another night without water, which would be an injury to them, they not having had sufficient this morning. Mr. B. also sent to say that he would accompany me to the Elizabeth. I have delayed an hour for him, and he has not yet made his appearance; it being now 1 o'clock, and having to travel seventeen miles, I can wait no longer. Started for Bottle Hill; arrived on the south side of the hill an hour and a half before sundown, found some water and plenty of grass; encamped for the night. Distance to-day, seventeen miles. The former part of the journey was over very stony country; the latter part very heavy sand hills.
Thursday, 17th June, Bottle Hill. Got on the top of Bottle Hill to take bearings, but was disappointed; could see no hill except one, which was either Mount Deception or Mount North-west; the bearing was 51 degrees 30 minutes. There is a small cone of stones on the top, and a flat stone on the top of it, with the names of Louden and Burtt. From here I saw the gum trees in the Elizabeth; course to them 325 degrees 30 minutes, seven miles to the creek. The country from the hill here is of the very worst description—nothing but sand and salt bush.
Friday, 18th June, The Elizabeth. We must rest our horses to-day, they have not yet recovered from their long thirst. I am quite disappointed with this creek and the surrounding country. The water is not permanent, it is only rain water; since we arrived yesterday it has shrunk a great deal. There are small plains on each side from a quarter to half a mile broad with salt bush; the hills are very stony with a little salt bush, and destitute of timber, except the few gum-trees in the creek and the mulga bushes in the sand hills.
Saturday, 19th June, The Elizabeth. The sky was quite overcast with cloud during the night, and a few drops of rain fell, but of no consequence. Started at 9.30 a.m., on a bearing of 308 degrees for six miles; changed the bearing to 355 degrees for one mile and a half; next bearing 328 degrees for four miles, to the north side of a dry swamp; next bearing 4 degrees for ten miles and a half; next bearing 350 degrees for four miles to a sand hill. Camped. Distance to-day, twenty-five miles, over a very bad country, with large fragments of a hard flinty stone covering the surface. Salt bush with small sand hills. No water.
Sunday, 20th June, Sand Hill. Started at 9 a.m., on a course of 25 degrees for sixteen miles. At 1 p.m., came upon a creek, in which I thought there might be water; examined it and found two water holes, with plenty of grass upon their banks. The water is not permanent. Our course to-day has been across stony plains (covered on the surface with fragments resembling hard white quartz), with sand hills about two miles broad dividing them. The black did not know of this water; I am very doubtful of his knowing anything of the country. The stony plains are surrounded by high heavy sand hills, especially to the west and north-west; I dare not attempt to get through them without rain. They are much higher than the country that I am travelling through. It seems as if there had been no rain for twelve months, every thing is so dried and parched up. On further examination of the creek we have found a large hole of clear water, with rushes growing round it; I almost think it is permanent, and intend to run the risk of falling back upon it should I be forced to retreat and wait for rain. The creek seems to drain the large stony plains that we crossed; the water is three and a half feet deep, ten yards wide, by forty yards long.
Monday, 21st June, Water Creek. Started at 9.30 a.m. on a course of 25 degrees. At a mile passed a small table-topped hill to the west of our line; at three miles and a half crossed the creek; at four miles passed another table-topped hill connected with the low range to the east, and passed the first ironstone hill; at seven miles changed to 55 degrees; at eight miles halted at a large permanent water hole (Andamoka). I can with safety say that this is permanent; it is a splendid water hole, nearly as large as the one at the mouth of the gorge in the John. The low range to the east of our course, and running nearly parallel with it, is composed of conglomerate, quartz, and a little ironstone. Part of to-day's journey was over low undulating sandy and very well grassed country. There seems to have been a little rain here lately; the grass is springing beautifully. At eleven miles we came upon a salt lagoon (Wealaroo) two miles long by one broad. From the north end of it, on a bearing of 55 degrees, one mile and a half will strike Andamoka. I think we have now left the western sand hills behind us; and now that we have permanent water to fall back on, I shall strike into the north-west to-morrow. The distance travelled to-day was fifteen miles. The country around this water consists of bold stony rises and sand, with salt bush and grass; no timber except mulga and a few myall bushes in the creek. On an examination of the creek, we have found salt water above and below this hole. In one place above there are cakes of salt one inch and a half thick, a convincing proof that this is supplied by springs.
Tuesday, 22nd June, Andamoka. Started on a bearing of 342 degrees. At seven miles and a half, crossed a low stony range running east-north-east and west-south-west, which turned out to be table land, with sand hills crossing our line, bearing to a high range east of us 93 degrees 30 minutes. About eight miles in the same direction there is the appearance of a long salt lake. At nine miles and a half, on a sand hill, I obtained the following bearings: Mount North-west, 60 degrees 30 minutes; Mount Deception, 95 degrees. At eleven miles and a half passed a large reedy swamp on our left, dry. At seventeen miles sand hills ceased. At eighteen miles and a half the sand hills again commenced, and we changed our course to north for three miles. Camped for the night at a creek of permanent water, very good. The last four miles of to-day's journey have been over very stony rises with salt bush and a little grass.
Wednesday, 23rd June, Permanent Water Creek. The horses had strayed so far that we did not get a start until 10 a.m. Bearing to-day, 318 degrees. At two miles crossed a tea-tree creek, in which there is water, coming from the stony rises, and running to the north of east. At six miles the sand hills again commence. To this place we have come over a stony plain, covered on the surface with fragments of limestone, quartz, and ironstone, with salt bush and grass. In a watery season it must be well covered with grass; the old grass is lying between the salt bushes. We have a view of part of the lake (Torrens) bearing north-east about fifteen or twenty miles from us; to the west again the stony rises, apparently more open. At ten miles, in the sand hills, we have again a view of Flinders range. The bearings are: Mount North-west, 78 degrees 35 minutes; Mount Deception, 107 degrees. At fourteen and a half miles we found a clay-pan of water, with beautiful green feed for the horses. As we don't know when we shall find more water, and as Forster has a damper to bake, I decide to camp for the rest of the day. Our route has lain over heavy sand hills for the last eight miles.
Thursday, 24th June, Sand Hills. At 8.30 we left on a course of 340 degrees, commencing with about two miles of rather heavy sand hills. At eight miles these sand hills diminished, and the valleys between them became much wider—both sand hills and valleys being well covered with grass and salt bush, with courses of lime and ironstone cropping out and running east and west. At twelve miles changed our course to 79 degrees, to examine a gum creek (Yarraout), which we ran down for water, but did not obtain it before four miles, when we found a small hole of rain water. This creek seems to be a hunting-ground of the natives, as we saw a great many summer worleys on its banks. They had evidently been here to-day, for, a little above where we first struck the creek, we saw some smoke, but on following it up, we found they had gone; most likely they had seen us and run away. The latter part of our journey to-day was over a stony plain, bounded on the west by the stony table land with the sand hills on the top. All this country seems to have been under water, and is most likely the bed of Lake Torrens, or Captain Sturt's inland sea. In travelling over the plains, one is reminded of going over a rough, gravelly beach; the stones are all rounded and smooth. Distance to-day, thirty miles.
Friday, 25th June, Yarraout Gum Creek. Started at 9.40 from the point where we first struck the creek last night, bearing 20 degrees for two miles, thence 61 degrees for one mile to a high sand hill, thence 39 degrees for one mile to a stony rise. My doubt of the black fellow's knowledge of the country is now confirmed; he seems to be quite lost, and knows nothing of the country, except what he has heard other blacks relate; he is quite bewildered and points all round when I ask him the direction of Wingillpin. I have determined to push into the westward, keeping a little north of west. Bearing 292 degrees for five miles, sand hills; thence 327 degrees to a table-hill nine miles. Camped without water. Our route to-day has been through sand hills, with a few miles of stones and dry reedy swamp, all well grassed, but no water. We came across some natives, who kept a long distance off. I sent our black up to them, to ask in which direction Wingillpin lay. They pointed to the course I was then steering, and said, "Five sleeps." They would not come near to us. About three-quarters of an hour afterwards I came suddenly upon another native, who was hunting in the sand hills. My attention being engaged in keeping the bearing, I did not observe him until he moved, but I pulled up at once, lest he should run away, and called to him. What he imagined I was I do not know; but when he turned round and saw me, I never beheld a finer picture of astonishment and fear. He was a fine muscular fellow, about six feet in height, and stood as if riveted to the spot, with his mouth wide open, and his eyes staring. I sent our black forward to speak with him, but omitted to tell him to dismount. The terrified native remained motionless, allowing our black to ride within a few yards of him, when, in an instant, he threw down his waddies, and jumped up into a mulga bush as high as he could, one foot being about three feet from the ground, and the other about two feet higher, and kept waving us off with his hand as we advanced. I expected every moment to see the bush break with his weight. When close under the bush, I told our black to inquire if he were a Wingillpin native. He was so frightened he could not utter a word, and trembled from head to foot. We then asked him where Wingillpin was. He mustered courage to let go one hand, and emphatically snapping his fingers in a north-west direction, again waved us off. I take this emphatic snapping of his fingers to mean a long distance. Probably this Wingillpin may be Cooper's Creek. We then left him, and proceeded on our way through the sand hills. About an hour before sunset, we came in full sight of a number of tent and table-topped hills to the north-west, the stony table land being to the south of us, and the dip of the country still towards Lake Torrens. I shall keep a little more to the west to-morrow if possible, to get the fall of the country the other way. The horses' shoes have been worn quite thin by the stones, and will not last above a day or two. Nay, some of the poor animals are already shoeless. It is most unfortunate that we did not bring another set with us. Distance to-day, twenty-four miles.
Saturday, 26th June, Edge of Plain. Started at 9.30 a.m., on a bearing of 314 degrees 30 minutes, over an undulating plain, with low sand hills and wide valleys, with plenty of grass and salt bush. After ten miles the sand hills ceased, and at thirteen miles we reached the point of the stony table land. Here we saw, to the north-north-west, what was apparently a large gum creek, running north-east and south-west. Changing our bearing to 285 degrees, after seven miles of very bad stony plain, thinly covered with salt bush and grass, we came upon the creek, and found long reaches of permanent water, divided here and there by only a few yards of rocks, and bordered by reeds and rushes. The water hole, by which we camped, is from forty to fifty feet wide, and half a mile in length; the water is excellent, and I could see small fish in it about two inches long. About ten miles down the creek the country seems to be more open, and the gum-trees much larger, and in a distant bend of the creek I can perceive a large body of water. The first of the seven or eight tent-like hills that were to the east of our route to-day presents a somewhat remarkable appearance. Of a conical form, it comes to a point like a Chinaman's hat, and is encircled near the top by a black ring, while some rocks resembling a white tower crown the summit. Distance to-day, twenty miles.
Sunday, 27th June, Large Water Creek. Cloudy morning, with prospect of rain. A swan visited the water hole last night, and to-day we have seen both the mountain duck and the large black duck. Having a shoe to fix upon Jersey, and my courses to map down, we did not get a start until 10 o'clock, and we were obliged to stop early in consequence of the grey mare getting so lame that we were unable to proceed. We had an old shoe or two, and Mr. Forster managed to get one on the mare. We started to-day on a bearing of 270 degrees for eight miles to a low flat-topped hill, when we changed to 220 degrees for five miles to a gum creek with rain water. About five miles to the north of our line there are flat-topped ranges, running north-east. The main creek runs on the south side of this course, and nearly parallel to it. Further to the south, at a distance of about ten miles, is still the stony table land with the sand hills. The country is fearfully stony, but improves a little in grass as we get west. It seems to be well watered. Distance to-day, about twelve miles.
Monday, 28th June, Gum Creek. There has been a little rain during the night, and it is still coming down. As I am so far north, I regret that I am unable to go a little further, fearing the lameness of the horses from the stony nature of the country. I intend to follow the creek up, if it comes from the west, or a little to the north of west, to see if I cannot make the fall of the country to the south-west, and get on a better road for the horses. We started on a bearing of 305 degrees, but after a mile and a half, finding the creek wind too much to the north, we changed our course to 287 degrees for five miles to a small flat-topped hill. Changed our bearing again to 281 degrees for twenty-two miles to a tent hill, on the south side of which we camped. This part of the country is very stony and bad, with salt bush and very little grass. It has evidently been the course of a large water at some time, and reminded me of the stony desert of Captain Sturt. Bleak, barren, and desolate, it grows no timber, so that we scarcely can find sufficient wood to boil our quart pot. The rain, which poured down upon us all day, so softened the ground that the horses could tread the stones into it, and we got along much better than we expected. Distance to-day, twenty-eight miles and a half.
Tuesday, 29th June, South Side of Tent Hill. Started at 8.30 a.m. on a bearing of 305 degrees. At eight miles crossed a gum creek, with polyganum, running to the north. At twelve miles crossed another, trending in the same direction. These creeks are wide and formed into numerous channels. I expected to have done thirty miles to-day, but am disappointed, for we were obliged to halt early, after having gone only eighteen miles, as my horse was quite lame. How much do we feel the want of another set of horse-shoes! We have, however, still got an old shoe left, which is put on this afternoon. It had continued raining all last night, but not heavily, and cleared off in the morning shortly after we started. Our travelling to-day has been still very stony, over stony rises; the stony table land that has been all along on our left is now trending more to the south-west. The country is more open: in looking at it from one of the rises it has the appearance of an immense plain, studded with isolated flat-topped hills. The last eight miles is better grassed and has more salt bush. Camped on a small creek in the stony rises. Distance to-day, eighteen miles.
Wednesday, 30th June, Stony Rises. We had a little rain in the former part of the night, and a very heavy dew in the morning. Started at 9.30 a.m., bearing 305 degrees; at five miles crossed the upper part of a gum creek, and at twelve miles ascended a high flat-topped hill, commanding a view of an immense stony plain, but it is so hazy that we can see nothing beyond ten miles. From this hill we changed our course to 309 degrees to a saddle in the next range. At four miles halted at a gum creek, with plenty of green feed. Made a very short journey to-day in consequence of the horses being quite lame. In addition to their want of shoes, a stiff, tenacious brown clay adhered to the hoof, and picked up the small round stones, which pressed on the frog of the foot. These pebbles were as firmly packed as if they had been put in with cement, so that we had hard work to keep the hoofs clear. Distance travelled, sixteen miles. Weather showery.
Thursday, 1st July, Gum Greek. The horses have had such poor food for the last week that I shall rest them to-day. About half a mile below us there is a large water hole a quarter of a mile long, with a number of black ducks upon it, but they are very shy. It rained very heavily and without intermission all last night and to-day. This creek is visited by a great many natives. We saw them making away as we approached.
Friday, 2nd July, Same Place. The creek came down last night: it is now a sheet of water two hundred yards broad. Started at 8.45 a.m. over a stony plain on a bearing of 309 degrees, to the saddle in the range. I ascended one of the highest hills in this range, but the day was too dull to see far. I could, however, distinguish what appeared to be a wooded country* in the distance, from south-west to north-east. (* This "wooded country" afterwards turned out to be sand hills, with scrub.) Observing that the country a little more to the north was less stony, I changed our course to a bearing of 344 degrees, over a plain thinly covered with gravelly stones, consisting of quartz, ironstone, and a dark reddish-brown stone, with a good deal of gypsum cropping out. The soil is of a light-brown colour, with plenty of dry grass upon it, and very little salt bush. In the spring time it must look beautiful. The country was so boggy from the heavy rains, that for the sake of my horse I was obliged to stop early. Camped at a gum creek coming from the south-west, and running a little to the east of north. Distance to-day, eighteen miles.
Sunday, 4th July, Same Place. Not the slightest appearance of a change. It rained in torrents all night and all day, though at sundown it seemed to be breaking a little. The creek came down in the forenoon, overflowed its banks, and left us on an island before we knew what we were about. We were obliged to seek a higher place. Not content with depriving us of our first worley, it has now forced us to retreat to a bare hill, without any protection from the weather. The rain has come from the north-east.
Monday, 5th July, Same Place. The rain lasted the greater part of the night, but became light before morning. Started at 12.30 on a bearing of 312 degrees for eleven miles to some sand hills. A fearfully hard day's work for the poor horses over a stony plain, sinking up to their knees in mud, until at eight miles we crossed a reedy swamp two miles in breadth, and how many in length I know not, for it seemed all one sheet of water: it took our horses up to their bellies.
Tuesday, 6th July, Sand Hills. All our rations and everything we have got being perfectly saturated with wet, I have made up my mind to stop and put them to rights; if we neglect them it will soon be all over with us. This was a beautiful day, not a cloud to be seen. There are a great many natives' tracks in these sand hills, and plenty of grass.
Wednesday, 7th July, Sand Hills. Heavy dew last night. Started on a bearing of 312 degrees at 9 a.m. At eleven miles the sand hills cease, and stony plain commences. The sand hills were well grassed: also the stony plain. Dip of the country still north-east. We crossed two watercourses—one at this side of the plain, and the other two miles back, broad and shallow. I could see gum-trees on the latter about two miles to the north-east as if it formed itself into a deeper channel. Travelling very heavy. Distance to-day, twenty-five miles.
Thursday, 8th July, Sand Hills. A very heavy dew again last night. Started at 9 a.m. At one mile we came on yesterday's course; could see nothing; changed the bearing to 272 degrees. At seven miles crossed a creek running north and a little west, the water being up to our saddle-flaps. At twelve miles the sand hills ceased, and we came upon an elevated plain, of a light-brown soil, with fragments of stone on the surface. At twenty-five miles, in the middle of this plain, we camped, without wood, and in sight of a large range in the far distance to the west. Distance to-day, twenty-five miles.
Friday, 9th July, Large Plain. Left our camp at 8.50 a.m. on the same bearing as yesterday, 272 degrees. At one mile and half came upon a creek of water, seemingly permanent. Judging from the immense quantity of dry grass that is strewn over the plain, this must be a beautiful country in spring. The dip of the country is to the north and west. Our horses are all very lame for want of shoes, and the boggy state of the soil to-day has tried them severely. If the country does not become less stony, I shall be compelled to leave some of them behind. We camped on a gum creek about three miles to the west of the range. My only hope now of cutting Cooper's Creek is on the other side of the range. The plain we crossed to-day resembles those of the Cooper, also the grasses; if it is not there, it must run to the north-west, and form the Glenelg of Captain Grey. Distance to-day, twenty-one miles.
Saturday, 10th July, Gum Creek, West End of Large Stony Plain. Rested the horses to-day. This evening we were surprised to hear a dog barking* at the grey mare; its colour was black and tan. (* It is commonly supposed that the native dingo or wild dog does not bark. This is an error. The dog in this instance being black and tan, was probably a hybrid. (See below.))
Sunday, 11th July, Same Place. This morning the sun rose at 62 degrees. Bearing to-day, 272 degrees, so as to round the point of range, which seems to have a little mallee in the gullies on this side, and some trees on the west side. Started at 8.30 a.m., and at four miles ascended the highest point of the range. The view to the north-east is over an immense stony plain with broken hills in the distance. To the north is also the plain, with table-hills in the far distance. To the north-west is the termination of the range running north-east and south-west, distant about ten miles; about half-way between is a gum creek running to north-east. To the west is the same range, and a number of conical hills between. Changed our bearing to 220 degrees in order to break through the range. This range is very stony, composed of a hard milky-white flint stone, and white and yellow chalky substance, with a gradual descent on the other side to the south, which is the finest salt-bush country that I have seen, with a great quantity of grass upon it. The grey mare has been very bad; her belly was very much swollen, but this morning she seemed better. Towards afternoon, however, she fagged very much, which caused me to stop so soon. I am almost afraid that I shall lose her. I shall see how she is in the morning, and, if she is no better, I will endeavour to get her on to some permanent water or creek running to the south. I think we have now made the dip of the country to the south, but the mirage is so powerful that little bushes appear like great gum-trees, which makes it very difficult to judge what is before us; it is almost as bad as travelling in the dark. I never saw it so bright nor so continuous as it is now; one would think that the whole country was under water. Camped without water. No timber as yet on this side of the range, except a few bushes in the creek. A good deal of rain has fallen here lately, and the vegetation is looking fresh.
Monday, 12th July, Large Salt-Bush and Grass Plain. The mare seems a little better this morning, and I shall be able to make a short journey. There was a very heavy white frost during the night, and it was bitterly cold. Not a hill to be seen either to the south-west or west—nothing but plain. Left our camp at 8.30 a.m. on a bearing of 220 degrees; at two miles and a half changed to 112 degrees for three miles to a small creek running south with plenty of feed and water. We found our horses very much done up this morning; they could scarcely travel over the stones, which caused me to alter my course to the eastward, where I found the travelling generally better. All the horses are now so lame that I shall require to rest them before I can proceed. They will not walk above two miles an hour among the stones. The stony plain seems to continue a long way to the south-west, but the country being undulating and the mirage so strong, I cannot say precisely. I intend to see where this creek will lead me to, for I cannot face the stones again. Our distance to-day, five miles and a half.
Tuesday, 13th July, Mulga Creek. Went to the highest point on the stony range east of us, but could only see a very short distance. There are a number of creeks on the eastern side running into this one. The range is low and very stony, composed of flints and pebbles of all colours. No timber.
Wednesday, 14th July, Same Place. During the night it became very cloudy, and I was afraid we were going to have more rain, but it has ended in a light shower, and cleared off this morning. I shall follow down the creek and see what it leads to. The grey mare still seems very bad, and I must make short journeys until she gets a little better. Started at 8.30 a.m., bearing 180 degrees for eight miles to Large Mulga Creek, thence 192 degrees for four miles. The country to-day is good on both sides of the creek, a good salt-bush country with plenty of grass, but rather stony. The gum trees are becoming a little larger on the creek, which at present is formed into a great many channels. The timber consists of mulga and dwarf gum, with saplings. There is plenty of water in the creek at present, from the late rain, but I see nothing to indicate its becoming permanent. Distance to-day, twelve miles.
Thursday, 15th July, Mulga and Gum Creek. Left the camp at 9 a.m. on a bearing of 190 degrees for two miles, thence 230 degrees for one mile and a half, thence 250 degrees for four miles and a half, thence 286 degrees for two miles, thence 290 degrees for one mile, thence 270 degrees for five miles, thence 320 degrees for one mile, to camp at some mallee. The country on both sides of the creek is good, but subject to be flooded; the width of the plain is about fifteen miles, bounded on the south side by bare stony rises, and on the north by scrubby rises. The creek spreads itself all over the plain, which seems to be very extensive. It has been excessively cold to-day: wind from the west. Distance to-day, seventeen miles.
Friday, 16th July, Large Plain, Mulga and Gum Creek. Left the camp at 9 a.m., on a bearing of 270 degrees for nine miles. The first six miles was a continuation of the creek and plain; it then turned to the north-west and the sand hills commenced. At nine miles we had a good view of the surrounding country, from the east to the north-west. To the west we could see the range that we crossed on the 11th instant trending away to the north-west as far as the eye could reach, apparently a sandy and scrubby country with small patches of open ground intervening. There also appeared to be a gum creek, about five miles west of this point. Seeing there was no hope for anything to the west for a long distance, I changed my course to the south on a bearing of 190 degrees to cross the stony rise, keeping on the sand hills for the benefit of the horses' feet. At five miles found that the sandy country swept round the stony rise, the country still having the appearance of scrub and sand hills all round. I altered my course to south-east to 132 degrees for fourteen miles; on this course we have ridden over a scrubby plain of a light sandy soil, most beautifully grassed but dry, the young feed not having sprung. We have not seen a drop of water on the surface; the ground evidently absorbs all that falls; the scrub is principally the mulga and hakea bushes and acacia, with a few other small bushes, but very little salt bush. Camped to-night without water. The grey mare appears to be getting round again; it seems to have been an affection of the chest, and has now fallen down into the left knee, which has become very much swollen, but it seems to have relieved her chest; she now feeds as well as ever. Distance to-day, twenty-eight miles.
Saturday, 17th July, Scrub and Sandy Plain without Water. Started at 8.10 a.m. on the same course, 132 degrees. At two miles and a half, rain water; at seven miles crossed a stunted gum creek running towards the south-west; at twenty-five miles came upon a little rain water. Camped. The plain still continues with very low rises at intervals; the scrub is much thicker and the greater part of it dead, which makes it very difficult to travel through. The grass is not so plentiful, and it is more sandy. The creek that we crossed at seven miles was running; it had salt tea-tree on its banks, and seems likely to have some permanent water either above or below. I did not examine it, because, the surrounding country being so sandy and scrubby, it will be of little use. Distance to-day, twenty-five miles.
Sunday, 18th July, Dense Scrubby Plain. Rain Water. Left at 9.15 a.m. on the same bearing, 132 degrees. We saw some native worleys, and the tracks of a number of natives having passed this place a day or two ago, going to the south-west. Distance to-day, twenty miles. Had to halt early in consequence of grey mare being done up and unable to proceed. The first part of the day's journey the scrub became more open and splendidly grassed, the latter part was fearfully thick, it is composed of mulga, dead and alive, and a few hakea and other bushes, with salt bush and plenty of grass of two or three different sorts. We have a view of rising ground a little to the north of our line, about from fifteen to twenty miles distant. To-morrow I shall alter my course to strike the highest point; it is a range, and seems to be wooded. I suppose it is the same range that we crossed on the 11th instant. It is very cloudy, and seems as if it will rain. Distance to-day, twenty miles.
Monday, 19th July, Dense Scrubby Plain. Started at 9.15 a.m. on a bearing of 120 degrees to the highest point of the range. A slight shower fell early this morning; it still looks very cloudy. We could only accomplish ten miles to-day in consequence of the grey mare being unable to proceed farther; if I can get her on to permanent water I shall leave her; she only keeps me back, and endangers the other horses. I shall be very sorry to do so, for she is a great favourite. We are now camped at a place where there are five or six small watercourses; if we can find water I shall give her until to-morrow to rest. The country that we have come over to-day is most splendidly grassed, of a red light sandy soil, but good; the mulga bushes in some places grow thick, and a great many are very tall. Forster caught an opossum—the first that we have seen; we intend making a dinner from him to-day. This is the first game we have been able to secure, except two small ducks we had at the beginning of our journey. We have found water a little way down the valley, which I think will become a large creek further to the south-west. We are again in the country of the kangaroos. Distance to-day, ten miles.
Tuesday, 20th July, Grassy Valley. We had another shower this morning. I must try and make the hills to-day if I can. Started at 10.10 a.m. on the same bearing as yesterday, 120 degrees, and at four miles ascended the peak on the range. I see around me a scrubby country, with open patches, and here and there in the far distance what appear to be belts of mulga. Four miles beyond this hill we halted at some rain water. We have seen three or four kangaroos to-day; they were the red sort with white breasts. Distance travelled, eight miles.
Wednesday 21st July, Grass and Salt-Bush Plains. Left the camp at 9 a.m. on a bearing of 97 degrees. Camped at some rain water in a clay-pan. At twelve miles there is low rising ground running north-west and south-east, which divides the two plains; there are no creeks, but the dip of the country is to the south-west. This is as fine a salt-bush and grass country as I have seen. It is a pity there is no permanent water. Distance to-day, twenty miles.
Thursday, 22nd July, Open, Good Country. Started at 9 a.m. on the same course as yesterday, 97 degrees. At ten miles crossed a small watercourse running to the south-south-west; at sixteen miles came through the saddle of a low range running north-west and south-east composed of limestone; it forms one of the boundaries of a large plain, which seems well adapted for pastoral purposes; it is well grassed, with salt bush, although we could find no permanent water. I think I can see a gum creek to the east of us, but the mirage is so powerful that I am not quite certain. Distance to-day, twenty miles.
Friday, 23rd July, Large East Plain. Started at 9.10 a.m. on a bearing of 82 degrees, and at four miles ascended an isolated hill, but can see nothing of the gum creek. Changed our course to 122 degrees, and at four miles crossed a mulga creek running to the east. Camped on the south-east side of a flat-topped hill, which, although the highest I have yet seen, enabled me to see nothing but the range to the north-east, and a high conical hill about ten miles south-west, connected with the ranges. The country is without timber except a few mulga bushes at intervals. Distance to-day, twenty-one miles.
Saturday, 24th July, South-east Side of Flat-topped Hill. Left at 8.10 a.m. on the same course, 122 degrees, over an undulating stony plain, with narrow sand hills at intervals, and a number of lagoons containing rain water, where we camped. I intend to move to-morrow to another large lagoon that we have seen from a small rise, and rest the horses there; they have had a very severe day of it, and feel the want of shoes very much. The stones are mostly white quartz and ironstone, small and water-washed. I conclude they have come from the hills that are to the south-west. Distance to-day, twenty-four miles.
Sunday, 25th July, A Lagoon of Rain Water. Finding that we have sand hills to cross, and being anxious to meet with the gum creek that the blacks have talked about, I have determined to proceed to-day, but if I do not find it on this course I shall turn to the south. Started at eight a.m. on a bearing of 122 degrees. At five miles, one mile to the south is a large reedy swamp. At fourteen miles changed the bearing to 135 degrees to the head of a swamp, two miles and a half, found it dry, a large clay-pan about three miles in circumference. I am obliged to halt, the horses are very tired and want rest; and there being plenty of beautiful green feed about, I have halted without water. Our journey has been through a very thick mulga scrub and sand hills, very heavy travelling. The trees in the scrub are of a different description to any that I have seen; they grow high and very crooked, without branches until near the top, and with a rough, ragged bark; seven or eight seem to spring from one root. The wood is very tough and heavy, and burns a long time, giving out a glowing heat. The leaves resemble the mulga, but are of a darker colour and smaller size. The native name is Moratchee. Shot a wallaby, and had him for dinner. They are very wild, no getting within shot of them, which is unfortunate, as our provisions are getting rather short. From the number of native tracks about, this would seem to be their season for hunting in the sand hills, which accounts for everything being so wild. We saw five turkeys yesterday, but could not get within shot of them. All the water seems to drain into the reedy swamp and clay-pans. I shall go no further to the east on this course, for I can see no inducement. I shall go south to-morrow, and see what that produces; if I cross no large creek within forty-five miles in that direction, I shall then direct my course for the north-west of Fowler's Bay to see what is there. Distance to-day, sixteen miles.
Monday, 27th July, Sand Hills and Dense Scrub. Left our camp at 9.20 a.m. on a southerly course, 182 degrees. At thirteen miles we camped at some rain water to give the horses a little rest. We have come through a very thick scrub of mulga, with broken sand hills and a few low rises of lime and ironstone. We have seen two or three pines for the first time, and a few black oaks. No appearance of a change of country. From a high sand ridge I could see a long way to the north-east, seemingly all a dense scrub. The grey mare is unwell again. Distance to-day, thirteen miles.
Tuesday, 27th July, Sandy Undulations. Started at 9 a.m. on the same bearing as yesterday, 182 degrees. At twenty-one miles changed our course to 235 degrees to some gum-trees. The first part of our journey the scrub became lower and more open, with limestone and sand rises at intervals, and with a good deal of grass in places. The last ten miles the mulga scrub was so dense that it was with difficulty we managed to get through. We have seen no water on this day's route, except that in the lagoon we are now camped at, and which is as salt as the sea. There is another large lagoon about a mile to the westward of us, which I will examine to-morrow to see if it gives rise to any creek. Distance to-day, twenty-two miles.
Wednesday, 28th July, Sand Hills. Started at 9 a.m. on a bearing of 283 degrees for two miles to examine the other lagoon, which is about three miles long, water salt. Changed our course to 182 degrees for ten miles to a large lake crossing our course. Changed our bearing to 240 degrees, and at four miles changed to 270 degrees, crossing some horse-tracks going towards the large lake. This seems to be a country of salt lagoons, for we passed three, and have seen a great many more. The large one that crossed our south course is evidently the head of Lake Gairdner. I could see it winding away in that direction. We have now got upon a plain slightly undulating with thick scrub and the unceasing mulga, intermixed with a few black oaks; no signs of water, no creeks. I intend to proceed north of west to intersect any creek or country that may come from the good country that we found on our south-east course, and the land of kangaroos; there is no hope of anything here. Camped without water. Distance to-day, twenty miles.
Thursday, 29th July, Mulga Plain, West of Lake Gairdner. Our course to-day is 310 degrees. Left our camp at 8.30, and accomplished twenty miles of the same scrubby plain, slightly undulating. Plenty of grass, but no water. Same description of country as on the 18th instant.
Friday, 30th July, Mulga Plain. Started at 7.35 on same course, 310 degrees. The scrub is so dense that I cannot see above one hundred yards ahead, and sometimes not that. During the night some swans and two ducks flew over, apparently from Lake Gairdner, and going in our direction. At ten miles, having met with some rain water, we halted, for the horses had been three nights without it. I have given them the rest of the day to drink their fill. This seems to be a continuation of the stony plain we crossed on our south-eastern line. The country appears open to the south, but no sign of any permanent water. Forster bakes the last of our flour this afternoon—the last of our provisions. Distance to-day, ten miles.
Saturday, 31st July, South Stony Plain. Left at 8.30 on the same bearing, 310 degrees. At ten miles we ascended a low range running north and south. We did not see a drop of water all day. Our course was over a gradually rising plain, well grassed at intervals, with plenty of salt bush, and with stone on the surface, composed of quartz, ironstone, and the hard white flinty stone so frequently met with. The scrub has nearly ceased. The dip of the country is south. During the night we again heard a dog barking at one of the horses, and during the day we saw two kangaroos. At ten miles we crossed a valley, through which water has been flowing to the south-south-west. Camped without water. Distance to-day, fifteen miles.
Sunday, 1st August, Stony Plain Valley. Left at 8.45 on the same bearing, 310 degrees. My reason for keeping this bearing is that there seems to have been very little rain to the south of us, and I am unwilling to get too far away from where it has fallen, in case I have to put to my former line for it. If I should meet with it to-day I shall turn south-west or west. This country is very dry, and absorbs all that falls. It is of a bright red soil, mixed with sand and, in some places, lime. At ten miles I am obliged to stop, in consequence of the grey mare being quite done up; the stones play the mischief with her. I have great doubts of her living through the journey. Distance to-day, ten miles.
Monday, 2nd August, Salt Bush—a Stony Plain. We had a little rain during the night. Started at 9 on a bearing of 315 degrees. At three miles changed our course to 230 degrees. The last three miles of this day's journey were through rather a thick scrub, but well grassed, with few stones. The former part was through a very well-grassed country, with a little salt bush and low scrub. Saw a number of kangaroos, but they were too wild to get near them. Distance to-day, twenty miles.
Tuesday, 3rd August, Good Country. It has rained during the whole night, and is likely to do so to-day. Started at 9, on the same course as yesterday, 230 degrees. The first portion of our journey was over six miles of splendid alluvial country, covered with grass—partly spear grass—with a little salt bush intermixed with it, also a few mulga bushes at intervals; no other timber. It is a most beautiful open piece of country, and looks much better than the Adelaide plains did at the commencement of the colony. Four miles further it was not so good; the soil became a little lighter, with more salt bush, and a little scrub. The last eleven miles the soil is good, with grass and salt bush in abundance, but much thicker with mulga and other low scrubs. It seems to be a continuation of the same scrub that we passed over on the 19th ultimo, and I observe that the ants build their habitations in the same style as they did there. They are about one foot in diameter at the base, and formed in the shape of a cone, and are supported by the dead root of a mulga. Others, however, stand from eighteen inches to three feet in height, built of clay, and on the surface. The kangaroo and emu inhabit the country. We have also found a number of places where the natives have been encamped. They seem to be numerous, judging from the number of places where they have had their fires; but we have not seen any of them. We have had it raining nearly all day, and it still looks bad. Our black fellow left us during the night; he seemed to be very much frightened of the other natives. He knows nothing of the country, and if he follows our tracks back, I don't envy him his walk. He was of very little use to us, and I wish I had sent him off before, but I thought he might be useful in conversing with the other natives when we should meet them. He was of no other use than for tracking and assisting in getting the horses in the morning, for I have given them every advantage—they have been seldom hobbled. There are three small valleys on our line in which water seems to have run at some former period. We have crossed no course of rocks of any description since our northern line; from which I am of opinion that the drainage is underneath, so that there ought to be numerous springs near the sea-coast. Camped without water. Distance to-day, twenty miles.
Wednesday, 4th August, Scrubby Good Country. Started at 8 on the same bearing as yesterday, 230 degrees. At thirteen miles ascended a low red granite range in which there is water. Changed our bearing to 209 degrees to a hill on the opposite range; when I returned I found the grey mare so done up that she is unable to proceed. I should not like to leave her, but I cannot delay longer with her. For about half a mile under the range where we are now camped is beautiful feed up to the horses' knees. Six cockatoos passed over to another range. We have also found a small running stream where I shall leave the mare to-morrow; I will make an attempt to regain her as I return.
Thursday, 5th August, Granite Range. Started at 8 on the same bearing for the hill on the opposite range. At six miles another low granite range with water, where we left the mare. At twelve miles went to the highest point of the range composed of hard flinty quartz and ironstone. We had a good view of the surrounding country, which was generally low and undulating, with salt lakes crossing at about ten miles. This region appears to be dotted with the lagoons from nearly the foot of the range. Changed our bearing to 268 degrees for nine miles. Camped under a range of low hills with good feed for the horses. On our west course we crossed a plain of red light soil, with abundance of grass and a little salt bush with a very thick scrub close to the range, but as we advanced it became more open, and the scrub lower. Shot a wallaby and had him for supper. Distance to-day, twenty-five miles.
Friday, 6th August, Under the Low Range. Left at 8.30 a.m. on a bearing of 239 degrees to avoid the stones on the hills. At five miles and a half got some rain water; at nine miles changed our bearing to 255 degrees; at fifteen miles camped among the sand hills. Shot another wallaby. The timber about here is very large, consisting of black oaks, mallee, mulga, the native peach, the nut, and numerous low scrubs. The grass is good in some places. The mountain that I am steering for is further off than I anticipated; we got sight of it a short time before we halted; it seems to be very high, and I expect something good will be the result of our visit to it to-morrow. The hills that we were camped under last night are composed of quartz, and are connected with the range that we were on running to the south-west. Distance to-day, twenty six miles.
Saturday, 7th August, Sand Hills going to the High Mount. Left at 8.30 a.m. on the same bearing, 255 degrees, for eighteen miles to the foot of the mountain. At fifteen miles camped under the highest point, which is composed of quartz rock. The journey to-day has been through horrid dense scrub and heavy sand hills, to the foot of the hill, which I have named Mount Finke. It is as high as Mount Arden; I have not light to get on the top of it to-night. Very little rain has fallen here, and we have been without water for the last two nights: the country is of such a light sandy soil that it will not retain it. I almost give up hopes of a good country; this is very disheartening after all that I have done to find it. If I see nothing from the top of the mount to-morrow, I must turn down to Fowler's Bay for water for the horses. As I could not remain quiet, I got on one of the lower spurs of Mount Finke to see what was before me. The prospect is gloomy in the extreme! I could see a long distance, but nothing met the eye save A DENSE SCRUB AS BLACK AND DISMAL AS MIDNIGHT. On my return I found that Forster had succeeded in finding water by digging in the creek. Distance to-day, twenty miles.
Sunday, 8th August, Mount Finke. At dawn of day I ascended the mountain, but was unable to see much more than I did last night, in consequence of there being a mist all round. No high rising ground is to be seen in any direction. A FEARFUL COUNTRY. Left the mount at 9.30 a.m. on a bearing of 270 degrees. At eighteen miles halted to give the horses some food, as they were obliged to be tied up all last night, there not being any feed for them, and the scrub very dense. The horse Blower seems to be very unwell; he has lain down twice this morning, and an hour's rest will do him good. After leaving the mount we have a thick mallee and mulga scrub to go through with spinifex. At ten miles changed our bearing to 190 degrees; at eight miles camped. The whole of our journey to day has been through a dreadful desert of sand hills and spinifex. In the last eight miles we have not seen a mouthful for the horses to eat and not a drop of water; it is even WORSE than Captain Sturt's desert, where there was a little salt bush; but here there is not a vestige. Distance to-day, twenty-five miles.
Monday, 9th August, Desert. Started at 8.30 on the same bearing, 190 degrees. At five miles there is a change in the country; the spinifex has suddenly ceased and low scrub taken its place; the sand ridges are spread and the valley wider. At seven miles discovered some rock water in the middle of a valley with plenty of salt bush and green grass, first rate for the horses, which have had nothing to eat for two nights. I shall give them the rest of the day to recover. They were beginning to be very much done up, and it was with difficulty we could get them to face the spinifex. Shot a pigeon and had him for supper. We have seen where a horse has been a long time ago. Distance to-day, seven miles.
Tuesday, 10th August, Rock Water. Started at 8.30 on a bearing of 180 degrees. Camped at eighteen miles without water, and a very little food for the horses, only a little salt bush. The appearance of a change from the dreary desert lasted only for about one mile from where we camped last night; it then became even worse than before—the sand hills higher, steeper and closer together, the spinifex thicker and higher; we got the horses through it with difficulty. It rained all last night and all day. There is some rising ground to the west. Distance to-day, eighteen miles.
Wednesday, 11th August, Dense Scrub. Left our camp at 8 on the same bearing, 180 degrees. At 9 obliged to halt for the remainder of the day, the horses being too tired to proceed further; the fearful sand hills are very trying for them. To-day's few miles have been through the same DREARY, DREADFUL, DISMAL DESERT of heavy sand hills and spinifex with mallee very dense, scarcely a mouthful for the horses to eat. When will it have an end? We again saw the rising ground a little to the north of west of us; I should have gone and examined it, but our small remaining quantity of provisions being nearly exhausted, I could not venture; my object now being to make Fowler's Bay for water for our horses, and thence to Streaky Bay, to endeavour to get some provisions there to carry us home. We have now travelled considerably upwards of a thousand miles, and in that journey my horses have had only four clear days to themselves; they have done most excellently well. No water.
Thursday, 12th August. Dense Scrub. Left at 8.25 on a bearing of 165 degrees. Camped at ten miles; the horses done up. The same dreary desert. No water.
Friday, 13th August. Dense Scrub. The horses look very bad this morning. I hope we shall be able to make the sea-coast to-day. Started at 8.30 on the same bearing, 165 degrees, but was unable to get more than ten miles out of the horses; Bonney is nearly done up, and there is no water for the poor animals. I hope I shall not be obliged to leave the poor old horse behind, but I very much fear that I shall have to do so if nothing turns up to-morrow. The country is still the same. This is dreadful work!
Saturday, 14th August, Dense Scrub. Started at 8.15 on the same bearing, 165 degrees. At ten miles came upon some green feed for the horses, and gave them the benefit of it for the rest of the day. Bonney still very bad. For the last two miles we have had no sand hills, but very dense mallee and tea-tree, with a light sandy soil with a little limestone, also salt bush and pig-face in abundance. No water.
Sunday, 15th August, Dense Mallee Scrub. Started at 8.45 on same bearing, 165 degrees. At two miles and a half changed our course to 225 degrees, having found some fresh horse-tracks; at seven miles camped for the remainder of the day to recruit the horses, having come upon some new green grass. Distance actually travelled, fifteen miles.
Monday, 16th August, Dense Mallee Scrub. Started at 9 on a course of 205 degrees. Twelve miles to Miller's Water. I intended to have given the horses two days' rest here, but there is not sufficient water; there are only three holes in the limestone rock, and the thirsty animals have nearly drunk it all: there will not be enough for them in the morning. The country that we have come through yesterday and to-day resembles the scrub between Franklin Harbour and Port Lincoln—mallee with grassy plains occasionally—only the mallee is larger, and the plains are met with at shorter intervals, more numerous and of larger extent. The soil is good but light, being produced by decomposed limestone, of which the low range to the north-west is composed. I am unable to go to Fowler's Bay as I intended; our provisions are exhausted, and the horses unable to do the journey. I must now shape my course for Streaky Bay to get something to eat.
Tuesday, 17th August, Miller's Water. Watered our horses from a waterproof with a quart pot. Started at 9.15, our course 160 degrees, six miles to Bectimah Gaip. For the first three miles the grassy plains are very good, and seem to run a considerable distance between belts of large mallee, in some places wider than in others, and seem to be connected by small gaips; I think water could be easily obtained by digging. The last three miles to the coast is very dense small mallee. Actual distance, twelve miles. I intend to give the horses a rest to-morrow. I regret exceedingly that I was unable to make Fowler's Bay. It is with difficulty that I have been able to save Bonney; he is still very weak and unable to do a day's journey; we can scarcely get him to do the short journeys we have been doing lately. For upwards of a month we have been existing upon two pounds and a half of flour cake daily, without animal food. Since we commenced the journey, all the animal food we have been able to obtain has been four wallabies, one opossum, one small duck, one pigeon, and latterly a few kangaroo mice, which were very welcome; we were anxious to find more, but we soon got out of their country.