JOURNAL OF LANDSBOROUGH'S EXPEDITION
IN SEARCH OF BURKE AND WILLS.
WITH A MAP SHOWING HIS ROUTE.
MELBOURNE: F.F. BAILLIERE, PUBLISHER, 85 COLLINS STREET EAST. LONDON: H. BAILLIERE. PARIS: J.B. BAILLIERE. NEW YORK AND MADRID. AND ALL BOOKSELLERS.
The readers of this pamphlet are no doubt aware that the anxiety entertained for the fate of Burke and Wills led to the formation of several expeditions in their search. The first of these was formed in Melbourne and entrusted to the command of Mr. Howitt. The second in Adelaide, under Mr. McKinlay. The third from Rockhampton, under Mr. Walker; and the fourth from Brisbane, under Mr. Landsborough. These several expeditions were organised and started within a short period of each other. The steamship Victoria, Commander Norman, was despatched by the Victorian Government to the Gulf of Carpentaria to assist the explorers in carrying out their objects.
Mr. Howitt, as is well-known, early succeeded in ascertaining the melancholy fate of Burke and Wills: but before his letter announcing it reached Melbourne the other expeditions referred to had set out.
The brig Firefly was chartered in Melbourne to take from Brisbane to Carpentaria Mr. Landsborough's party and equipments, and also some stores for Mr. Walker's party, the latter having been instructed to proceed from Rockhampton overland, by the shortest route, to a rendezvous at the Gulf. The Firefly, having reached Moreton Bay and shipped the horses, set sail for Carpentaria on the 24th August with Mr. Landsborough and his party.
As it is the object of this pamphlet to give details, especially of his expedition, the journal, letters, etc., which follow, are now presented.
BRISBANE PARTY, W. LANDSBOROUGH, ESQUIRE, LEADER, REPORT TO 30TH SEPTEMBER 1861.
Sweer's Island, Gulf of Carpentaria, 30th September 1861.
To Captain Norman of Her Majesty's Colonial War Steamer Victoria, and Commander-in-chief of Northern Expedition Parties.
I have the honour to inform you that the greatest attention was paid by my parties to the horses for the expedition on board the Firefly, and they ought, during the eight days after leaving Moreton Bay, while we had the finest weather, to have done well, if their allowance of five gallons of water each a day had been sufficient for them; but with that allowance they were so thirsty that they did not thrive well. That quantity of water may do well for horses intended for the Indian market, where they can be fattened afterwards; but for our expedition horses, which were intended for immediate service on landing, to be kept in a close hold, confined by the cargo of the vessel, and fed with dry forage (they did not eat the carrots at first, until they had acquired a taste for them) eight gallons of water each per day at least should have been allowed to them.
On Sunday the 1st instant, when Captain Kirby expected to get through the Raine Island passage on the following day, where he hoped to get such calm weather that it would admit of your giving him a fresh supply of water, he allowed our party to give the horses a good drink. On that occasion they drank each, on an average, nine gallons. Towards evening of the same day the breeze freshened into a gale, and about ten at night, when the Firefly was head-reaching under close-reefed sails, we had the misfortune to lose sight of H.M.C.S. Victoria, under your command.
On Monday the 2nd instant the gale continued, and during the night the ship was hove to with her head to the eastward.
On Tuesday the 3rd instant the gale still continued, but Captain Kirby, having got observations of the sun, he boldly made sail in for the reefs, and between eleven and twelve a.m. he sighted the Raine Island beacon, and early in the afternoon he went through the passage, and got into smooth water, where we congratulated ourselves, and were thankful, I hope, to God, for the comparative safety of ourselves, and also of the horses under our charge.
All the horses were alive except one, which, from the sand being pumped from under its feet, had not been able to stand during the gale, and in consequence had been trampled underfoot by the other horses and so much injured that we were compelled to destroy it. About an hour before dark we reached, with a fresh and favourable breeze, a point between the two largest of the Sir Charles Hardy's Islands, where one of the anchors was let go and, upon its dragging, another was let go, which dragged also, until we were close to the lee shore, when it held, fortunately, till after daylight of the morning of Wednesday the 4th instant when, the cable parting, the brig went ashore broadside onto the reef which extends for about half a mile from the base of the bold rocky island. The waves breaking over the ship, the masts were cut away and fell over the side. The smallest boat was then launched and immediately broke in pieces. While the wreck of a masts was being cleared away by a good swimmer called Muller, a Dutchman, in order to get a clear sea to launch the ship's large boat, our party took the opportunity of feeding and watering the horses, and in the meantime the tide had fallen so much that Muller found footing. The boat was launched safely and, on being asked by Captain Kirby, I went ashore with Mr. Martin, the supercargo, and a part of the crew. We found we could wade on shore; and, on the previous evening having seen the masts of a ship on the other side of the island, Mr. Martin and I went across and found it was a vessel which had sunk within half a mile of the shore in deep water.
At the abandoned camp of the shipwrecked crew we found a copy of The Argus newspaper of the 14th June, a barrel of peas, fragments of paper bearing the names of the Lady Kinnaird and Captain Chorley on them, a part of a child's dress, etc.
On our return to the wreck of a Firefly, we found the crew very busily engaged in carrying stores on shore on their backs, as Captain Kirby did not like using the boat for that service, being afraid of having it injured. In the evening we fed and watered the horses, and Mr. Campbell offered to remain on board if he got someone to assist him to attend to the horses during the night; but as there were drunken sailors on board, and I thought the breaking up of the old Firefly not improbable, I did not like remaining or asking anyone else to do so. After the ship struck, the officers and crew considered themselves under no discipline, taking from the stores whatever they wanted, and, I am sorry to say, much of the Expedition spiced beef and other things were stolen, and many things destroyed from recklessness; but I am pleased to add that, after your arrival, when order and sobriety became prevalent, from the prompt and wise measures adopted by you, a considerable quantity of the slops were recovered by a diligent search through the effects brought on shore by the crew of the Firefly.
Shortly after the ship struck I overheard one of the officers say that we were all alike; and now that the vessel was a wreck the cargo belonged to no one in particular; and one of our party overheard another officer say to the crew: "There are twenty-two pairs of (Expedition) boots; help yourselves. There are a pair each for all hands, and a pair to spare."
On the afternoon of Wednesday 4th instant (the day on which we were wrecked) with Captain Kirby's approval I offered the carpenter five pounds to cut the vessel close down to the water's edge to get the horses out. (This, under the circumstances, I hope will meet also your approval.) This he agreed to, and on the following morning when it was almost high-water, he (the carpenter) and Muller swam off to the wreck to do so, and shortly afterwards, when I had found a good place on the island for watering the horses, I accompanied Messrs. Campbell and Martin and three of my aboriginals to the wreck to assist the carpenter in making a breach in the side of the Firefly. To do this work the only tools the carpenter and his assistants had were two adzes and two small tomahawks. My aboriginals, Jamie, Fisherman, and Jackie, worked hard with the tomahawks, and were most able assistants in cutting the vessel down.
On Friday (the 6th instant) we landed safely twenty-five of the horses. We were obliged to land them chiefly at low-water, and then we had to use every precaution to prevent them swimming off to sea; for some of them in the first instance, when we were not watching them, swam off and did not drift ashore until they were exhausted, and one, after swimming for about an hour in different directions, reached the southern island, about a mile distant, with a strong wind and considerable waves against him.
On Saturday the 7th instant, while we were attending to the surviving horse of four which had been trampled down by the stronger horses among the floating empty water tanks, we had the great pleasure of seeing H.M.C.S. Victoria coming to our relief; and I can assure you we were very thankful, and our spirits much cheered by your telling us, after Captain Kirby had intimated to us that he had abandoned the Firefly as a total wreck, and in our presence told his crew that as shipwrecked mariners he had placed them under your charge, that you would do your best under the circumstances to enable us yet to start on our expedition from the Albert River in search of Mr. Burke and his companions, and with that view you would endeavour to get the Firefly afloat again, and have her refitted as a transport hulk for the conveyance of our party, horses, and stores; and if you did not succeed in that undertaking (which I hope you will pardon us all for having thought a most hopeless affair) you would in several trips transport our party, horses, and stores in H.M.C.S. Victoria.
Now that the great exertions made by you and your officers and crew in getting the Firefly afloat again, in refitting her, in embarking twenty-five of the horses, with our party and stores, and in transporting them safely to the Gulf of Carpentaria, has been crowned with success, allow me to congratulate you on those events, and to assure you that, these difficulties being overcome, I have now great hopes of carrying out at least satisfactorily, with the assistance of my brave, trusty, and zealous companions, the instructions of the Victorian and Queensland Governments, with those which I may receive from yourself.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
(Signed) W. LANDSBOROUGH,
Commander of the Victorian and Queensland Land Expedition.*
(*Footnote. Captain Kirby of the Firefly has since published a pamphlet in which he states that my party were at times in a great state of alarm, but in fairness to them I may mention that although they had frequently much reason to be so, I never saw them exhibit any traces of fear. He further states that from what he saw of them they showed great ineptitude for camping out. This is surely very unlikely as we were all old travellers, three of my party and myself had at one time been gold-diggers, a mode of life well calculated to give the necessary experience in this way. And as for Captain Alison, who had never been a gold-digger, I observed on the island that his tent was particularly well pitched.)
Sweer's Island, 8th October, 1861.
To Captain Norman, of H.M.C.S. Victoria, and Commander-in-chief of the Northern Expedition Parties.
I have the honour to inform you of the following particulars with regard to the Albert River:
On Tuesday morning (the 1st instant) at 8 o'clock we reached the mouth of the Albert River, on the sandy beach of Kangaroo Point.* There were about a dozen blacks, who appeared friendly and kept speaking to us as long as we were within hearing; but none in the barge (not even the native troopers) understood them. With the exception of Kangaroo Point, on the east bank, the river has an unbroken fringe of mangrove to a point two miles in a straight line from its mouth, and an unbroken fringe to a point three miles in a straight line from the mouth on the other side of the river. Above these points the lower part of the river has (where the edges have no mangrove) fine hard sandy sloping banks which are well adapted for landing horses or goods. A short time before we reached the point, above thirteen miles in a straight line from the mouth of the river where we anchored for the night, we saw about six blacks, who were very friendly and followed us for some time. We found that the water was fresh when we reached Alligator Point, about twenty miles in a straight line from the mouth of the river; above this point the fringes of mangrove are scarce on the edges of the river, and back from the river there is rising ground, consisting of fine, well-grassed, and slightly timbered downs. On passing up the river, on the left bank, we observed a blackfellow asleep. At sunset we anchored at a point about twenty-six miles in a straight line from the mouth of the river, where a river from the southward, which Mr. Woods called the Barkly, joins the Albert River.
(*Footnote. Kangaroo Point would in my opinion be a healthy site for a township. The ground is sufficiently high along the shore at that place, and without mangroves. We did not find water there, but, as there were a few blacks almost always in that neighbourhood, I have no doubt that there is some surface water, or that it is easily procured by digging.)
On going on shore on the western bank of the Albert River I found within a hundred yards of it a waterhole at which it would be more convenient to water stock than the river, as the banks of it are at this place too steep. Above the junction of the Barkly the Albert River is not navigable for even boats, from its being too full of snags. On the following morning we went up the Barkly on the barge for about two miles, to where it was too full of snags to proceed further up the river by water. We then took a walk over the Plains of Promise and crossed at a point about three miles from where we had left the barge. In doing so we started a black man and woman; they were both old and naked; the former went out of sight by running down the bank and plunging into the river, and the latter climbed up a tree, where, while we remained, she continued speechless. Where we crossed the Barkly it had a narrow muddy bed, the water in which was cool from its being shaded with pandanus, palms, and Leichhardt-trees. A short distance lower we recrossed by a tree which the carpenter felled for that purpose, at a point where the deep water in it is caused in some measure by the rise of the tide; afterwards we followed down the river to the barge. At different places we marked the trees, but did not see any that had been marked previously, nor indeed any traces of any European parties. After walking over the Plains of Promise we went down the river and anchored opposite the point where the cliffs are mentioned in the charts as thirty feet high. In the morning, accompanied by the native troopers Jemmy and Jackie, I went north-westerly over slightly timbered grassy plains, and reached in about a mile a waterhole, and in about another mile a narrow mere, which I called Woods Lake, extending northerly and southerly at least for a mile or so in an unbroken sheet of water. I went southward along the edge of Woods Lake to a clump of box and tea-trees, and while I was marking a tree Jackie shot (chiefly with one discharge of his gun) about half a dozen of whistling-ducks and a large grey crane. As I never saw so many aquatic fowls assembled as were at this place it is to be hoped that, when we reach the Albert River again, we will be able to shoot great quantities of them for fresh food.
The bank on which I marked the tree will, probably at no very distant time, be chosen as the site of a homestead for a sheep establishment, as it is surrounded by fine dry plains which are covered with good grasses, among which I observed sufficient saline herbage to make me feel satisfied that they are well adapted for sheep runs. As the wind was unfavourable during the afternoon the crew had to row down the river. On passing near where we saw the blacks on our way up we found about twenty, counting men, women, and children, waiting to see us as we passed. On the following morning we went ashore and got water in a waterhole near the bank, and also firewood off an old fallen tree, which, I think, is probably the real ebony. Late in the evening we reached a point on the eastern bank about three miles above Kangaroo Point.
We went ashore and in the course of a walk started on the wing two large bustards, and also, within shot of us, two or three wallabies.
In our way up and down the river the temperature ranged on the bar from 74 to 94 degrees. The nights were agreeable, and we were fortunately not troubled with mosquitoes or sandflies.
On the upper part of the river we saw altogether three crocodiles, but they were so shy that they remained in sight only a few seconds.
The slightly timbered downs and plains on the banks of the Albert River are, as I hoped they would be from their western position, of a similar character to good inland settled sheep country of New South Wales and Queensland; the trees that we saw are all small; but as sheep do best in Australia where the temperature is dry, the soil rich, and slightly timbered, and as this is the general description, I believe, of the country and climate of the Albert River, the sheep farmer should be willing to put up with the inconvenience caused from the want of good timber for building purposes.
We saw large quantities of the small white cockatoos, and the rose-coloured ones, which are to be found only in the inland settled country of New South Wales and Queensland. The Albert River being navigable will make the country on its banks very valuable, as I believe sheep will do well on it, more especially as they do well on inferior-looking country within the tropics to the north-west of Rockhampton.
Allow me to recommend for the depot which you propose forming with the Firefly hulk on the Albert River some place as convenient as possible to Woods Lake, or the waterhole that I mentioned that I had found near the head of the navigation, and as there is very little forage on board the Firefly it would be advisable to land, as soon as possible, the horses on the west bank of the river above the second inlet, that is, if there is any chance of the Firefly being delayed in proceeding up the river.
I have the honour to be, etc.,
(Signed) W. LANDSBOROUGH,
Commander of the Victorian and Queensland Land Expedition.
BRISBANE PARTY, W. LANDSBOROUGH, ESQUIRE, LEADER.
CONTINUATION OF REPORT ON THE ALBERT RIVER, ETC.
OCTOBER 15TH 1861.
Albert River, Gulf of Carpentaria, October 15 1861.
To Captain Norman of H.M.C.S. Victoria, and Commander-in-chief of the Northern Expedition Parties.
I have the honour to inform you that the senior lieutenant of H.M.C.S. Victoria, having been commissioned by you to take the Firefly hulk to the head of the navigation of the Albert River to form a depot there, shortly after midnight of the 14th October, at the flood of the tide, which occurs here only once in twenty-four hours, we stood in for the mouth of the river and, as the channel is of a winding character, and the ship almost unmanageable, we had to take her right over the bar. From thence we proceeded some time after daylight with a fair wind, several miles up the river to where we took grass on board, which some of my party, having preceded us, had in readiness. On the 16th, from the time of the tide, the wind being unfavourable, we had reached no further than Norman's Group of Islands, which are about ten miles in a straight line from the mouth of the river. At that place, from the small quantity of water on board it became necessary to decide on what bank the horses should be landed; consequently three parties started in search of water—a boat and two land parties. The former, under the command of Mr. Frost, found a good pond of water near the lowest water we had found when we first explored the Albert River. In the same neighbourhood Mr. Campbell's party, who went up the west bank of the river, found another waterhole, which was distant from the ship, by the road they went, about four miles, and passable for the horses, although partly over mudflats which during high tides are covered with water; and on that account I thought, having observed the country to be very low from the masthead, it would be impassable.
I accompanied Mr. Bourne, Mr. Hennie the botanist, and two native police-troopers to the eastward in search of water. In that direction we went about six miles, which was further than was necessary as we found water within that distance. The first three miles we went was chiefly over hard flats which at high tides are covered with water; the next was over such good country that Mr. Bourne, although I had given him my account of the Plains of Promise, said he did not expect to have seen such fine country on the Albert River. The character of the country is plains with the best grasses on them. Mr. Bourne and I agreed in thinking that the lowest of them (with the exception of there being on them no cotton and cabbage saltbush) resembled in appearance, and from their having salty herbage in abundance, some parts of the Murrumbidgee plains. The higher parts are more thickly grassed and are slightly wooded with stunted timber, consisting of box, apple, white-gum, cotton, and other trees. The cotton-trees I had never seen before; but Mr. Hennie told me they had been found by Dr. Mueller when in Mr. Gregory's party in the expedition to Northern Australia.
On this country we found abundance of waterholes, some of which were divided from each other by sandstone dykes and contained fresh, and others brackish, water. Near the waterholes, at the most conspicuous points of timber on our route, we marked trees. The north-easterly waterhole I called Mueller Lake. It is a fine long sheet of water which is brackish but not to an extent to render it undrinkable.
Before we reached any water on our way from the ship, we observed, at some distance from us, several blacks, of whom three gins and three children we overtook in their camps. These we tried to persuade by signs to lead us to the nearest water, but they were so extremely terrified that they clung to each other and would not move, except to point in the direction in which by our proceeding a short distance we found it ourselves.
On the 17th October the ship was taken alongside of the western bank of the river, and, a landing stage having been made, twenty-three of the horses were walked on shore and driven up to Frost's Ponds; the remaining two from their being too weak were kept on board. A few of the horses after their voyage were in good order, and the most of the others, which were in such low condition from their insufficient allowance of water from Moreton Bay to Torres Strait, now showed, from their having plenty of water since their reshipment at Hardy's Islands, that they were in a thriving state.
On the 20th Messrs. Bourne, Moore, Frost, and two troopers started up the river on a shooting and land excursion. I accompanied them to near Frost's Ponds where the horses were running, and I was glad to find the horses were doing well, as I expected they would do, from the herbage of the plains in that neighbourhood being of the most fattening character. Late in the evening our sportsmen returned and gave a most glowing description of about eight miles of the plains they had crossed in going to and returning from some waterholes they had found, one of which was within half a mile of the river. As they made their excursion an exploring rather than a sporting expedition they shot very little, although they saw several wallabies on the plains, and crowds of duck and other aquatic fowl at the waterholes they passed in the course of their walk.
On the 22nd, having made circulars to the effect that the Firefly hulk and the horses (broad arrow before L) were on their way up the river, the latter on the west bank, some of our party landed on the east bank and stuck them up in places where Mr. Walker's party would probably find them in the event of their passing us and following down that side of the river. In doing so we went over a fine grassed plain, and in that distance found two waterholes. On the 24th the blacks paid us a visit and we gave them presents; but afterwards, as they stole some clothes that were out to dry, we determined to give them no further encouragement unless they returned the stolen things. This Mr. Woods, on the following day, tried to explain to a few of them who swam across the river to the bank that we were alongside of.
When I see naked blacks I am very much tempted to give them clothes and tomahawks; but this should not be indulged for I have found from having done so that the more they have got the more they have wanted; and on the other hand I have found that when they got nothing from us they gave us very little of their company and thus rarely gave us any occasion for quarrelling with them.
On the 27th of October Mr. Campbell and the troopers went on shore and collected the horses and took them up as far as Moore's Ponds.
From twenty-two observations, chiefly taken during the day, the temperature has ranged from 69 to 89 degrees and averaged a fraction over 80 degrees. On the 29th we had a few drops of rain which reminded us that we had hardly had any since we started from Brisbane, upwards of a couple of months ago.
My party went in search of the horses yesterday and returned with them today to the place where the ship was aground, a point about fifteen miles in a straight line from the mouth of the river. The horses were so fresh that to hobble them two of the quietest had to be caught to round with them the others up. In the ten days that they had been ashore they had improved more in condition than any horses I have seen do in other parts of Australia in a similar period. To collect the horses they had to go as far as ten miles in a north-west direction, to a saltwater creek which, from Mr. Campbell's report, I believe is the River Nicholson. On the following day I accompanied Mr. Campbell and the troopers to the Nicholson River. The water in it we found not so brackish as that part of the Albert River where we left the ship. I was surprised to find it was not so broad as the river I have just mentioned. We encamped all night on the bank of the river, and near our camp marked a tree (broad arrow before L). On the 30th we returned to the ship after getting the troopers to collect the horses and shoot a quantity of ducks. By counting my steps I made the distance seven miles to a bend of the Albert River near which Moore's Ponds are situated, and two miles and three-quarters further brought us to the point near which the ship had reached. It is a grassy plain between the two rivers, with a few stunted trees upon it; that nearest the Nicholson River is the poorest soil, and the grass at present upon it is very much parched up. A fine large enclosure for stock might be formed by running a fence across from the Albert to the Nicholson River.
On the 1st November we commenced making a yard for the horses and, having got the assistance of two of the carpenters, we commenced to shoe the horses. On the 4th I got a passage in the barge to H.M.C.S. Victoria, which was stationed at the distance of seven miles from the mouth of this river, to consult with yourself respecting the plan to be pursued in the search for Mr. Burke and his companions, and to express my earnest desire to have rations at the Albert River depot to make a second expedition by the route which Mr. Gregory and I agreed to as the most likely way to find traces to follow Mr. Burke and his companions—namely by skirting the desert, and passing, as near as the country would admit of my doing, to their starting-point, and also to go to a place on the Bowen Downs (a well-watered country) to seek for a continuation of tracks seen by Messrs. Cornish and Buchanan, which they thought were made by a South Australian party, at a point rather less than 300 miles towards the Gulf of Carpentaria from Burke's depot on Cooper's Creek.
On the 6th instant we left the Victoria together (as you are aware) for the depot on the Albert River, and that evening after nine hours boating reached our destination.
On the following morning, having proceeded up the river on the previous day, reached the junction of the Barkly with the Albert River, near which we found the tree marked by Mr. Gregory and Captain Chimmo, the former on the left and the latter on the right bank; afterwards having marked lines of trees, and marked on trees directions to lead the exploring parties to the depot, we returned to it.
On the 15th, intending to start tomorrow on the inland expedition, I had all the horses, in number twenty-three, brought up, the two weak ones having died since our arrival at the Albert River, besides the five I mentioned as having died on the voyage. We saddled and packed a few of the wildest of the horses* to make them more tractable tomorrow, when I hope, as I have mentioned, to start on our journey.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
(Signed) W. LANDSBOROUGH,
Commander of the Victorian and Queensland Land Expedition.
(*Footnote. The freshness of the horses was surprising: because so soon after the hardships of their voyage, and the destruction of their forage on board the Firefly by seawater, they were chiefly sustained, from Hardy's Island till landing at Carpentaria, by grass cut by our party: this was a task of some difficulty, as we had no implements for doing so excepting our knives.)
Albert River, October 18 1861.
To Captain Norman, H.M.C.S. Victoria.
I have the honour to inform you that I have much pleasure, after the conversation that we had with regard to Lieutenant Woods, in applying to you for that gentleman to accompany me in the expedition, of which I have the command, in search of Mr. Burke and his companions; and I feel that for the unsurveyed western country in the route which I am instructed to take, I have much more necessity for the services of that officer in an astronomical point of view than Mr. Walker can have.
I have got a sextant for taking the latitude, but I have not a chronometer, as Mr. Gregory thought the jolting it would get should render it useless.
I hope, therefore, for the cause of science, etc., you will reconsider the conversation I have had with you on the subject.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
(Signed) W. LANDSBOROUGH,
Commander of the Victorian and Queensland Land Expedition.
Victoria, off the Albert River, October 19 1861.
In reply to your letter of yesterday, containing an application for Lieutenant Woods to be allowed to accompany you on the expedition which you command, in order to fix your position in a correct and proper manner:
I have the honour to inform you that it was the desire of the Exploration Committee I should furnish that assistance to Mr. Walker, and, having only one officer that I can spare for that duty, I must withhold my consent until I see Mr. Walker and you are nearer your departure. And further, as I understood from Mr. Gregory that Captain Alison was engaged for the purpose of carrying out that important part of the duty, you will be so good as to explain your reasons for want of confidence in him.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
(Signed) W.H. Norman, Commander.*
W. Landsborough, Esquire.
(*Footnote. I answered this letter; but, having sent a copy of it with other papers from Carpentaria to Brisbane, I cannot at present present it for publication.)
Norman's Group, Albert River, October 18 1861.
My dear Captain Norman,
I have much pleasure in informing you that we have landed safely twenty-three horses, and have sent them to a waterhole which we have called Frost's Ponds, where they had a great roll in the mud, which will, I hope, protect their tender skins in some measure from the sun and sandflies; two of the weak ones we have kept on board.
The wind and the time of high-water (at night) was very unfavourable for going up the river, and, as we were short of water, I need not tell you how glad I was to know of waterholes to which I could drive the horses. Three parties went in search of water the day before yesterday, and were all successful in finding it. Mr. Campbell went with one party and found water on the west bank up the river. I went on the east bank, and in an easterly direction got onto a finely grassed, openly timbered country, within three miles, and at the edge of the timber, in less than three miles further, found a fine waterhole, besides shallow ones, nearly all along the last-mentioned distance. Mr. Frost found a fine waterhole within five miles of here, to which we have driven the horses, as it was on the route which we had previously determined upon as the best to take if practicable.
I have not time at present to write you an official letter, except the one I sent respecting Mr. Woods. The horses, from our having had from you a liberal supply of water, are in much better condition than when they left Hardy's Island.
I remain yours very truly,
(Signed) W. Landsborough.
Being at the depot to start Landsborough on the South-West Expedition from November 5th to 16th, and Walker not having arrived, I offered the services of Lieutenant Woods, which Landsborough declined to accept of, stating he considered they could do very well without any assistance.
(*Footnote. At Brisbane, where I met Captain Norman before I had started on the expedition, he led me to expect that Lieutenant Woods would accompany me to make astronomical observations whilst on my search for Burke, provided I made application for his assistance. At Carpentaria, having ascertained that Lieutenant Woods was himself anxious to accompany me, I wrote the foregoing letter (Number 1) applying for that officer. Captain Norman's reply to this letter I considered tantamount to a refusal, and accordingly arranged to take Captain Alison. Having done so, I may have stated to Captain Norman that I considered I could do very well on this occasion without any assistance from him.)
Albert River, 15th November 1861.
After the unexpected delay of this expedition, from circumstances and accidents over which we had no control, on the 4th instant, in consultation on board the Victoria, I informed you that my stock of provisions for the crew of that vessel would only permit my remaining in the Gulf for 115 days, and that in accordance with the spirit of my instructions you ought to start so soon as possible for Central Mount Stuart, or as near thereto as the nature of the country will admit of your approaching it, and returning to this depot within ninety days from this date.
You having reported yourself ready for starting tomorrow, and that you have ninety days provisions at full allowance, with all the other stores complete for the same time, it therefore only remains for me to fulfil the wishes of the committee, and to inform you that they expect, on your return to Queensland, to be furnished with a copy of your journal and surveys; and that, as Mr. Walker has not arrived so as to enable me to make arrangements for meeting him at the Limmon Bight River, you are to consider that no such arrangement will be made, and that I shall look for your return to this depot within the time specified. And as you have full instructions for your guidance, the same as myself, I feel well assured you will do all in your power to fulfil them, and will make such deviations as the country will admit of in order to find any track of the missing explorers, as well as to meet the wishes of the Exploration Committee.
With reference to your suggestion of starting on a south-easterly exploration after you return to this depot, rest assured I will do all in my power to assist you in anything that may be likely to lead to the discovery of the tracks of the missing explorers.
In conclusion, if any unforeseen accident should delay your return here before my departure, I will bury one of the iron tanks and mark on the large tree at the smithy where you will find it.
I will also take other precautions to ensure your getting the same information by marking other trees, and sinking bottles with letters in the ground. In the tank I will secure all the best stores, and if necessary sink two to hold them.
With every good wish for your safe conduct, and speedy return before I am compelled to depart,
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
(Signed) W.H. NORMAN,
Commander, and Commander-in-Chief of Northern Exploring Parties.
W. Landsborough, Esquire.*
(*Footnote. It will be seen by this letter that Captain Norman approved of my searching to the south-east when I returned from the south-west. I may mention that, when bidding Captain Norman goodbye, before starting, he told me that he would be very glad to see me return to the depot at the end of two months.)
Albert River Depot, November 15 1861.
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of this day, and to state that I hope to start on the journey recommended by you in accordance with the instruction of the Exploration Committee.
I shall do my utmost to find traces of Mr. Burke and his companions between here and Central Mount Stuart, and will, D.V., return within the time (ninety days) which you have given me for that purpose, if I am not delayed from sickness, or from the country being rather too dry or too wet. I am very much pleased to learn from you that you are willing, as well as lies in your power, to assist me in making a second journey in search of Mr. Burke and his companions, between here and his depot on Cooper's Creek; because I believe the traces seen of an exploring party by Messrs. Cornish and Buchanan, nearly three hundred miles this side of it, were of the parties we want to find, especially as that is a route which the Victorian and South Australian parties may not be able to explore, and one upon which my knowledge of the country will, I hope, be of service to me.
With many thanks for the able assistance you have at all times given in carrying out the views intended by this expedition, etc.,
I have the honour to be, Sir, with best wishes for your own health and welfare,
Your obedient servant,
(Signed) W. LANDSBOROUGH,
Commander of the Victorian and Queensland Land Expedition.
Captain Norman of H.M.C.S. Victoria.
Depot, Albert River, December 20 1861.
Mr. Walker's party having arrived here for supplies on the 7th instant, and left again this day, to return to the Flinders River for the purpose of following up the tracks they have found of Mr. Burke to wherever they may be led by them, I deem it my duty to inform you that for the relief of Mr. Burke I consider it is not necessary you should return by the overland route, as Mr. Walker's party will, no doubt, do all that is possible, and not give up the following of the missing party by their tracks to wherever they may lead to.
And notwithstanding my sanction to the contrary I deem it my duty to inform you that for the relief of the missing explorers it is not necessary for you return overland with your party, and that you ought to return by the Victoria to Queensland in accordance with the instructions of the Royal Society.
But as much will depend on the time you return here, and condition of your horses and party for immediate service, to overtake and render assistance in pursuing the tracks found, I must leave it to your own decision to determine whether you do so or abandon your horses and return by water.
As all the stores are at the depot that can be spared from the Victoria (ammunition included) and I have left instruction for their being packed in 50-pound packages ready for immediate use, should you arrive here in time to overtake Mr. Walker your party might render some service towards the main object of the expedition by joining in the following up of the tracks found.
I have the honour to be, etc.,
(Signed) W.H. NORMAN,
Commander, and Commander-in-Chief of Northern Expedition Parties.
W. Landsborough, Esquire,
Leader of Brisbane Party for relief of Burke, etc.
H.M.C.S. Victoria, off the Albert River, February 7 1862.
I do myself the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 22nd ultimo reporting your return, and containing an outline of your proceedings, and the nature of the country you passed through going towards and returning from the direction of Central Mount Stuart; also a tracing of your route for the Royal Society of Victoria.
In reply to your requisition in the same for a further supply of stores for use on going on the south-east route, I regret to inform you that, from not having them, I shall be unable to supply you with tea, sugar, and rum; but such other articles as we have and can spare you will be furnished with; but should you consider it will in any way endanger your party going overland without the stores you have asked for, or from the smallness of the number for which you can carry stores, or for protection, I do not consider that it is imperative you should do so, having every reason to believe that Mr. Walker's party will do everything that is possible and necessary to continue following up of Mr. Burke's tracks, and you can all return by Victoria; but, as you have stated, there is a possibility of Walker losing the tracks, and you will have the same chance of finding and following them up as he will by going on the south-eastern route, you have my sanction to proceed if you consider you can with safety do so, taking with you as many of your party and whom you think proper, and the remainder will be taken round by this vessel.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
(Signed) W.H. NORMAN,
Commander, and Commander-in-Chief of Northern Exploring Expedition to Gulf of Carpentaria.
W. Landsborough Esquire, Leader of Brisbane party, etc.
H.M.C.S. Victoria, off Albert River, Gulf of Carpentaria, February 6 1862.
In reply to your letter of the 20th December 1861, in which you tell me you do not deem it necessary for me to go on the second expedition I proposed, namely, to the south-east, as Mr. Walker will no doubt do all that is possible and not give up following the missing party, I beg to disagree with you. I think, now that the tracks have been found, that it is an additional reason for my going on the expedition, and that I will have a much better chance of being successful in the main object of the expedition than I had on my last one.
Mr. Walker will not be able probably to follow the tracks of Mr. Burke and his companions, as too long a time has elapsed since these tracks were made.
In conclusion I thank you for the sanction you have given me to proceed on this expedition, especially as I never would have had anything to do with it had I imagined that I would have been checked in going the way I now propose; for all along I thought it would be the way where Burke's tracks were most likely to be found, and more particularly after I learned from Messrs. Cornish and Buchanan that they had seen what they believed to be the tracks of Burke's party, about 200 miles to the westward of Mount Narien.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
(Signed) W. LANDSBOROUGH,
Commander of the Victorian and Queensland Land Expedition.
Captain Norman, H.M.C.S. Victoria, Commander-in-Chief of Northern Expedition Parties.
Depot, Albert River, January 22.
I have the honour to inform you that our party arrived here all safe and in good health on the morning of the 19th instant, when we were informed of the successful overland journey, through, in a great measure, an unknown country, of Walker's party, and of the glorious news of their having found the tracks at the Flinders River of Burke's party returning from the Gulf of Carpentaria; and also of your having found tracks lower down the river, which were probably older than those found by Mr. Walker's party, as the latter were the return tracks.
Mr. Walker's party, as you observe in your letter of the 20th ultimo, will no doubt do all that is possible and not give up (if he can follow the tracks) following the missing party, in whatever direction they may go. This however they will find difficult and tedious, if not altogether impossible.
I have brought back all the horses with the exception of two that were drowned. I shall therefore, as I have your sanction, so soon as I have recruited the horses and rested till there is a probability of my party being able to travel, which we cannot do at present, as the country is, I think, too boggy, start again, with a better hope of success in the main object of the expedition than I had on my last journey, when, in accordance with my instructions, I went as far as the dry state of the country and my time would admit in the direction of Central Mount Stuart.
For our next expedition we have, as you are aware, no tea nor sugar. When you are leaving, I am sure, if you can spare us any of these necessary articles, you will do so; also some lime-juice, rum, quinine, caster oil, and laudanum, which are so useful for the prevention or cure of diseases to which we will be liable during or after wet weather.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
Commander of Victorian and Queensland Land Expedition.
Captain Norman, of H.M.C.S. Victoria,
Commander-in-Chief of the Northern Expedition Parties.
COPY OF JOURNAL.
W. LANDSBOROUGH, ESQUIRE, LEADER OF BRISBANE PARTY.
Albert River, November 18 1861.
Camp Number 2. Situated near the junction of Beames Brook.
Monday November 18.
From the Post-office Lagoon we went one and a half miles west, thence over fine downs, chiefly wooded with acacia, two and a half miles south-west, and reached a pond on the left bank of Beames Brook, near which we had a dinner of young wood from a cabbage-palm-tree which Fisherman felled near the steep bank of the running stream, at which place we marked a tree (broad arrow before L) and likewise marked in the same way a more conspicuous tree which stands a little further out from the brook; thence eight miles south-west, over fine rich plains with a good variety of grass upon them, and a few plants of saline herbs. It was then time to encamp, as we had been travelling for five hours; we therefore changed our course to north-west for three-quarters of a mile, and reached a branch of the Nicholson River consisting of at least four channels, one full of fine clear running water, on the right bank of which we formed our Number 3 Camp.
Tuesday November 19. Camp Number 3.
The channels are shaded by drooping tea-trees, swamp-oaks, etc. As it was unnamed on the charts I gave it the name of Gregory River. Some blacks came up and watched the camp while we were packing. We started up the river at 8.45 a.m.; we followed the right bank of the watercourse in a south-south-west direction. At 9.50 we reached a fine point for a station for stock, about two and a quarter miles by the river from camp, the first mile and a half of which was in a south-south-west, and the last three-quarters of a mile in a south by east direction. We could not cross the river easily, so we kept on the right bank. At 10.20 we reached a point on the riverbank half a mile south-west from the last. At 10.35 we made half a mile south. At 10.45, steering south-west by south half a mile we came to what seemed to be the junction of the creek. The course of the river was then from south-west to north-east, so we followed it up for three miles, where we unpacked the horses, as we wanted to water them. The approach to the river was boggy. We stopped here and had some dinner. On the bank marked a tree (broad arrow before L). In the afternoon we travelled from 4.4 to 6.13, in the following courses:
At 4.20 half a mile south-west by south where we passed a fine waterhole.
At 4.40, one mile south-west by south.
At 5.5 one mile south-west.
At 5.30 one mile south-west by south.
At 5.55 one mile south-west to where we passed a broad reach of water.
At 6.10, three-quarters of a mile south-east to a point above junction of a dry watercourse where we made our Number 4 camp. The edges of the plain which we saw today in following up the river are of the richest soil, and only sufficiently timbered to afford firewood for a pastoral population. The grasses are of the best description. This is the character of the whole of the country we have seen since we left our first camp. There is no appearance on the country we have crossed of its having had rain for a long time; but from the strong stream of water in the river I think there must have been plenty of rain on the country higher up. I saw today, on several low places, saltbush which the horses ate, of a kind I have often seen in the western country from Rockhampton, but never before so near to the coast. By following the river it has taken us nearly right on our course towards Mount Stuart.
Wednesday November 20. Camp Number 4.
Situated on right bank of the Gregory River. Started at 8.13 a.m. and steered south for about three miles, until 9.25; then I had to change our course to south-south-east for about half a mile to where we tried to cross the river, but could not find a suitable place for doing so. Started again at 10.15 and reached at 11.15, by a south course, two and a quarter miles to where we crossed a dry creek near its junction with the river. We continued steering on the same course south for about one mile, when we reached the bank of the river, and a further continuation of the same course for one mile brought us to a place on the river where we watered the horses. The watering-place was boggy but we could find no better. Started again at 2.4 p.m., and at 3.30 made one and a half miles south-south and by east; at 4 made one and a half miles in a south-east direction, to where I went in search of a crossing-place, and in doing so followed the river in a south-east direction for two and a half miles without finding a place where the horses could approach even near enough to the river to get a drink without a risk of their falling into the deep water. We followed up the Gregory River thirteen miles by the courses I have mentioned. We found the branding-irons did not answer for branding trees, as it took a much longer time to do so than to mark them with a tomahawk, so we buried them at a tree marked Dig, at the camp we left this morning. Last night we had a potful of the young wood of the cabbage palm, which tasted like asparagus. All the country we have seen today is of a similar character to that described in yesterday's journal. This afternoon we reached country on which rain had fallen recently and it was in consequence covered with herbage so green that we did not think the horses on it would require water during the night, so their not having been able to approach it earlier in the day was not of any consequence. We encamped but the night was so short and the mosquitoes so troublesome that, what with watching and getting up at 3.45, we had hardly sufficient sleep. I found at this time that the duties of exploring gave very little time for fishing or shooting. At this period of our journey the sextant was too much out of order for making sufficiently accurate observations of the stars.
Thursday November 21. Camp Number 5.
On right bank of the Gregory River. Started at 8.30 a.m., and at 8.55 had made along the same bank three-quarters of a mile in a south-south-east direction; at 9.25 we made a mile further in the same direction; at 10.13 also in the same direction (south-south-east) two miles; at 10.30 changed our course and made three-quarters of a mile south-east; at 10.45 by following up the river we made half a mile south-east by south to a point where I marked a tree with a broad arrow before LC+, where the river assumed a new character. It has a broad hard bed with only a boggy spot at the western bank. The crossing of the horses over this place was more difficult than I expected, and had to be accomplished by strewing the ground with grass. We started from the left bank of the river at 3.13 p.m., and at 3.40 made one mile and a quarter south and by east; at 4.18 two miles in the same direction; at 4.40 one mile south-east; at 4.54 half a mile further in the same direction; at 5.12 three-quarters of a mile south in a fruitless search for water. Returned to the same bank by an east-north-east line of one mile and a quarter in length, where we encamped. The country we have seen on this side, although fine fattening plains, is more thinly grassed and not nearly so rich as that on the plains we saw lower down the river. At the camp we found marjoram, which makes a pleasant drink. On this side of the river also we observed a white stunted gum with leaves like that of the apple tree. I may mention a few common trees which I have observed today—first, on the edges of the river fine large tea-trees, with foliage (melaleuca) like the drooping willow; beautiful Leichhardt-trees, pandanus, and cabbage-palm-trees: on the banks and scattered over the plain, stunted box, bauhinia, white cedar, and bloodwood; with the pandanus I got too intimately acquainted for, while with merely a shirt upon me, leading a restive horse across the river, I fell back and, rolling, got its thorns into all parts of my body.
Friday November 22. Camp Number 6.
Situated on the left bank of the Gregory River. At 9.44 a.m. steered south and by east for two miles, and by doing so went across a bend of the river; at 9.58 made half a mile in a south by west direction; at 10.20 made a quarter of a mile in the same direction, to the left bank of a watercourse, which was evidently a new one, and which I called the Macadam, after the Secretary of the Royal Society. Stopped to fill water-bottles and water the horses as I was afraid of the creek being dry further up. Started again at 11.40 a.m. at a quicker pace, and at 12.10 p.m. made one mile and a half south; at 12.40 p.m. halted to adjust the pack of a packhorse after having made one mile and a quarter further in the same direction. Started again and at 1 p.m. made south and by west (by following up the Macadam Creek) half a mile; at 1.20 one mile south-west by south to where we stopped, and started again at 1.26; at 1.55 one mile south-west by south made a point near which there was water in the Macadam Creek, and encamped.
With respect to the Macadam Creek, it is badly watered and has a dry shallow aspect, and appears from the scarcity of flood-marks to have seldom a stream of water in it, and I am of opinion flows chiefly through flat country. This character of a river has in the settled parts of Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland, the best sheep country on its banks; but here, where all the country is dry enough for sheep, this will not be a qualification. Following it will be an unpleasant exchange to the Gregory River with its beautiful stream of water, which I daresay comes from well-watered highlands. At present the plains are dry and parched.
The water at our encampment was very bad, in a great measure from its being warm, shallow, and frequented by ducks and other birds. This is the hottest day we have had. At first we thought we were going to have a miserable camp, from the badness of the water; but in the afternoon a fine cool breeze sprang up and at the water, or near it, we shot several ducks, a large waterfowl, and some rose cockatoos; we had also as many nice little figs as we liked to eat from a large shady clump of bushes near the camp.
Saturday November 23. Camp Number 7, situated on Macadam Creek.
We started at 8.48 a.m. and at 9.23 had made two and a quarter miles in a south-west by south direction. At 9.40 we made one mile further in the same direction; from thence we went in a south line for one mile and a quarter, and reached, at 10.10, at the end of that distance, a very fine waterhole, 300 yards long and forty yards wide, very deep, with basaltic dykes at both ends. I thought they were like white limestone. Here we watered the horses. Started again at 10.55. At 11.55 made south along the bed of the creek three-quarters of a mile. At 11.40 made a mile south-west by south, where we stopped to adjust a pack, and started again at 11.45. At 11.58 we reached in half a mile south-west by south a waterhole in the Macadam Creek, near which there are a great many rocks like white limestone. At this water we made another stop, and started at 12.20 p.m. At 1.3 made one mile and three-quarters south-south-west, where we sighted the first hills we have seen since leaving the depot. We went on the plain a quarter of a mile south-west by south to get observations of the hills. They appeared to be twenty or thirty miles distant. Started again at 1.37, with Fisherman, following the rest of the party, who had gone on; and at 1.58 made three-quarters of a mile south-west by west. At 2.6 a quarter of a mile south to a dry creek, which we crossed. 2.40 we reached Macadam Creek in one mile and a half in a south by east direction, where we overtook our companions. At 3 we went in search of water up Macadam Creek three-quarters of a mile south. We stopped to have a drink, and although the water from the leather bottles was full of impurities we found it agreeable to our parched palates. We started again at 3.20, and made south-west one mile to Gregory's River, where we formed our seventh camp. The river is here a quarter of a mile wide, running strong in two channels. It is uncrossable for horses, and the intervening parts are crowded with fine large weeping tea-trees, large Leichhardt-trees, tall cabbage-palm, pandanus, and other trees. It is the finest and greenest-looking inland river I have seen in Australia, and the country it runs through consists of rich-soiled plains, just sufficiently wooded for pastoral purposes. Since we left the depot we have not seen any country on which sheep would not do well, excepting during the wettest and driest seasons. In country such as this it is a singular fact that sheep do better, on the whole, in a wet season than on ridgy country. With one exception, where the soil was clayey, the country we have seen on this river is of the very richest description. At present it is parched up, with the exception of a few patches of young grass near the river. In many places the old grass is three feet high. Notwithstanding the parched state of the grass, the horses have done well upon it, indeed they could not look better if they had been corn-fed.
Sunday November 24. Camp Number 8.
We rested ourselves and the horses. Mr. Alison made a traverse table of our course and found that we had made 55 miles south and 25 miles west from Post Office Camp, near the junction of the Barkly with the Albert River, and the latitude 18 degrees 45 minutes. The sun is too vertical for taking it with my sextant and artificial horizon. We were rather late in making observations of the sun, and we only got one sight of it, which was made by myself. I brought it to a point within 180 yards of me on the level bank of the river, which altitude made our latitude 18 degrees 57 minutes. Thermometer showed 90 degrees at 7 a.m. and 103 degrees at noon. We got a fine potful of cabbage-tree sprouts, which eat like asparagus.
Monday November 25. Camp Number 8. Situated on the Gregory River.
From this camp we started at 8 a.m., but had almost immediately to halt for ten minutes to adjust a pack on a riding-saddle. The other packsaddles were constructed on Gregory's principle, and required less adjusting. At 8.45 made one mile and a quarter south by west along the bank of the river. At 9 made one mile and a half south-west by south. At 9.16 made half a mile further along the river in the same direction to outlet of creek, which is probably what I have been calling Macadam Creek (or River). At 9.23 made a quarter of a mile still further along the bank of the river in the same direction, at which place hills were in sight a short distance from our course. Fisherman and I started for the hills, bearing 231 1/2 degrees, and in two miles we reached the hill, and from the top of it we saw ranges from 67 to 328 degrees; but none of them were remarkable. The hill we ascended was rocky and barren. Having taken observations of these hills, Fisherman and I started to rejoin our companions. The country was so parched up that Fisherman said, "Suppose you leave him river, you won't find other fellow water." At 11.49 we made one mile and a quarter south; at 12.10 we steered south-south-west for about three-quarters of a mile, and reached the river, where, at a blacks' camp, we overtook our companions. There were three gins and six children, who were trembling with fear in and at the edge of the water. In a short time they recovered courage, and one of the gins, to whom I gave a red woollen neck comforter, wanted to get up behind one of my companions, and although her advances were rejected she followed us until Jemmy, the trooper, made signs to her to return to camp. We started again at 12.30, and at 12.42 made half a mile south-west by west. At 12.56, by following up the river, we made half a mile in a south-west direction. At 1.17 p.m. made three-quarters of a mile south by west along the bank of the river. At 1.27 quarter of a mile south-west, where on the bank of the river we had dinner, and had for salad cabbage-tree sprouts. The holes in the river are here deep and long. Hills confine the river on both sides, just above where we had dinner. The one on the right bank of the river I have named Heales Ranges, and the one on the left Mount Macadam. Started again at 4.53 p.m. At 5.20 followed up the river, one mile in a westerly direction, over fine ridges of rich soil. At 5.27 quarter of a mile south-west by west. At 6.25 made two and a half miles west-south-west to left bank of the river, where we formed our ninth camp—the worst camp the horses have had as the grass was completely burned up.
Tuesday November 26. Camp Number 9, situated on the Gregory River.
From this camp there are three hills on this side—the left—of the river, visible from the camp; ranges bearing from north by east to north by west I call the Hull Ranges; a hill west half south I call Mount Moore. Fisherman and I set off when Campbell, Allison, and the horses were all but ready to start, to go along the ranges to have a view of the country. We went along the ranges which confine the river on the left bank for forty-eight minutes, when we reached a point about two miles west by south from camp. At 9.20 we started to overtake our companions. At 10.12 made two miles and a quarter west by north, partly over ridges of good soil, and partly over barren ridges, all of which were as dry as a chip, to the track of our main party on the way up the river. At 10.40 made one mile southerly, and reached in that direction and distance the bank of the river, where it washes the base of a steep hill on the opposite side. At 11 we made three-quarters of a mile along the bank of the river in a south-west and by west direction. At 11.12 made half a mile west-south-west to a point on the bank where a hill on the left bank is about quarter of a mile distant to the north-west. At 11.25 made half a mile west-south-west to old channel of river. At 11.37 made half a mile west along the river to a point where an isolated hill bore west-south-west and by south. At 11.43 made quarter of a mile west and watered our horses at the river. Started again at 12 noon. At 12.20 steered one mile west, overtook our companions, and halted to water the horses of the main party. Started at 1 p.m., and at 1.50 made two miles south-west by following up the river. At 2.24 made a mile and a quarter south-west by west through a pass confined by hills on the right and the river on the left. As soon as we got out of it we observed similar ones on the opposite side of the river. At 2.45 made three-quarters of a mile south-west by south to a point where we made our Number 10 camp. Today we went up the river twelve miles and a half. During that space it is confined more or less by ranges, which the river on either one side or the other washes the base of when it is flooded. The troopers agree with me in thinking that the river has the appearance of having a constant stream of water. A small log of wood on the edge of the water I observed was covered over with a stony substance formed by sediment from the water. At one place in the river where we bathed the current was so strong that it took our feet from under us in wading across. It is so deep that it is not fordable except at the bars between the waterholes, where it runs rapid. Its bed is full of large trees, among which I observed gum, Leichhardt, tea, and cabbage-palm-trees. Along the edge of the water it has a fringe of pandanus. Among the trees in the second bed by the river there is coarse grass and other herbs. If we had seen the country under more favourable circumstances, a short time after rain had fallen instead of now, when the grass is dry and withered, I should have called it most beautiful country; for, with the exception of a few barren ranges the soil is very rich and clothed with the best of grasses. The trees upon it are chiefly bauhinia, and stunted box and gumtrees, without ironbark.
Wednesday November 27. Camp Number 10, situated on the banks of the Gregory River.
Ginger, the old black horse, was missing until eleven o'clock, when the troopers reported that they had found him in the river drowned, and floating down with the stream. I had the horses brought down on the previous evening to the only watering-place which was safe, but as they were watered a few hours before they did not all of them drink so soon again. From camp we crossed a bad gully and from it made a fair start at 11.52, having made at that place half a mile south-west by south. The river is at this place closely confined on both sides by stony ranges; a few drops of rain fell on us in that pass. At 12.40 p.m. made two miles west to a small dry watercourse from the north, which is full of pandanus at its mouth. The ranges on the left bank had on them dykes like artificial ones, which run at different places across the hills. At 1 p.m. we made three-quarters of a mile in the same direction south to another dry small creek from the north. At 1.14 we made half a mile west by south to rapids with a fall of at least three feet, where the river was still closely confined on both sides. At 1.45 made a mile south-west to a small basaltic hill, opposite what appeared the junction of a larger river from the west-south-west. As the crossing-place was bad in this river the troopers and I crossed to look at the large watercourse; it was running and so full of pandanus that we could not see it well. It might be only another channel of the Gregory River. It has the broadest bed but has not so much running water in it. The basaltic hill rose too close to the river to let us pass so we had to go round it, and as soon as we had done so we reached the junction of a creek from the north. The country about here consists of stony barren hills and ridges, with the exception of a few spots which have rich soil and excellent grass. There is slate in abundance, and the country is like that of some goldfields I have seen. At 3.40 made half a mile north-west up the creek, which has a slaty bed, where we crossed. A little higher it has reeds and water in it. I have called it the Stawell Creek. At 3.48 quarter of a mile south-west to the river; we observed in crossing this point patches of triodia, or more commonly called spinifex. The country near this part of the river is wooded with stunted bloodwood. At 4.30 made one mile south-west up the river. At 4.43 half a mile south-south-west to a point between river and small basaltic hill with two little cones on the top of it, like the cairns Mr. Stuart draws of those he made on Central Mount Stuart. (Direction omitted, probably about south.) At 4.10 one mile and a quarter to where we made our Number 11 camp, at which place I observed some first-rate grasses, and for the first time on the Gregory River a few tufts of kangaroo-grass. The country we have seen today is fine fattening healthy sheep country; but it will not carry much stock as the grass is thin. The horse drowned had been an unfortunate brute from the time of our leaving Brisbane. On board ship he was nearly kicked to death by other horses, having been trampled down during the wreck.
Thursday November 28. Camp Number 11, situated on the Gregory River.
Mr. Allison and I made from time to time observations of the sun and stars; but as the sextant, which had been injured at the wreck of a brig, was out of order, we had no confidence in those observations, and have not preserved them. From Camp Mount Kay, a hill confining the river closely on the left bank, about one mile and a half distant (looks about three miles) bore 119 degrees; another hill about two miles distant bore 28 degrees; and another, two miles, bore 312 degrees; also a hill forming the south end of the gorge of the river, about one mile distant up the river 249 degrees. There is marjoram in abundance at the camp; but that is hardly worthy of remark as it is very common all up the river from the commencement of the high grounds. We were detained this morning as I had a shoe to put on one of the horses and other things to do. At 9.20 a.m. Messrs. Campbell, Allison, and Jemmy started up the river, and Fisherman and I started to look for a river from the southward. At 10.5, after having crossed the river, we made one mile and three-quarters south-south-west over rising ground, of the richest soil with hardly a tree upon it, to the foot of the ranges, at which place Mount Kay bore 56 degrees; the hill, probably, with the cairn on the top, 53 degrees; the ranges bearing 68 to 71 degrees, which I think are on the right bank of a watercourse we found soon afterwards, which I named the O'Shanassy River, just above its junction with the Gregory River. A table hill, about a mile distant 92 degrees. At 10.50 we made half a mile south-south-west to the top of a range which has a basaltic stony character. From it we observed that we were 327 degrees from a distant long-topped table hill. Having got into broken country I depended too much on Fisherman to take me out of it into the next valley, but he took me on to the river at a point a considerable distance up its course. At 1 p.m. we returned to the point, which is one mile and three-quarters south-south-west from the camp we left in the morning. At 1.30 we made east-south-east, past the little table hill to a beautiful valley of the richest soil, but now without water, and all the grass parched up, at which point Mount Kay bore north-north-west, about one mile distant. We then searched for the river we expected to find coming from the southward, and found it by following down the river north-east for one mile and a half below Mount Kay, where we marked a tree—broad arrow before L. We then followed the river up for half a mile and observed that it was running. It does not join at the place which we the previous day thought was the junction of a river. Just above the junction there is a scrub of large fig-trees, on which there were a great number of flying foxes. There is a hill on the right bank of the river, just above its junction with the Gregory, which I named Smith's Range. In returning I observed at a point one mile and three-quarters south-south-west from the camp remarkable hills on both sides of the Gregory River, about half a mile above the junction with the O'Shanassy, which I have named the Prior Ranges. At 4.48 we returned to a point opposite Mount Kay. At 5.26 made two miles up the river to where there are remarkable bluff hills on both sides of the river (the lower hills of the gorge). At 5.50 we observed that we had passed the camp and, as the river is difficult to cross even at its best fords, we went to the camp ford, which the horses knew, as we had crossed there in the morning. Having made camp at 6.35, at dark we made one mile and three-quarters west, slightly southerly to the hill at the gorge, on the track of the main party. Further than that Fisherman would not follow this track in the dark, as it went over a basaltic rocky range. This was a bad camp for us, the grass so parched up that the horses could not get any worth eating, and we had nothing to eat ourselves. I was stung by a reptile, probably a scorpion. The pain it gave was sufficient to make me very uncomfortable during the night.
Friday November 29.
At 5.40 a.m. Fisherman and I started on the track of the main party. At 6.55 we made two and a half miles south-south-west by following the river up a gorge to opposite junction of a watercourse from the south, which I have named the Verdon Creek. At 7.18 made three-quarters of a mile south-west by south up gorge of the river. At 7.35 made half a mile south-west and by west to junction of a little creek from the north. At 8 made three-quarters of a mile west to a basaltic hill on left bank. At 8.25 three-quarters of a mile in the same direction, to a point opposite a large creek from the south, which I have named Balfour Creek. (Respecting it see Campbell's report.) At the lower end of a gap in the basaltic wall, on the left side, there is a round-topped hill, just above the junction of the creek. At 8.35 we made half a mile west-north-west to the junction of a small creek from the north. At 9.4 made a mile west and by north. At 9.13 a quarter of a mile to junction of a watercourse from the north, which I have named Haines Creek. At 9.24 a quarter of a mile north-west up this creek to Number 12 Camp. During the remainder of the day we all remained in encampment except Mr. Campbell and Jemmy who went and examined Balfour Creek, having been asked by me to do so. Mr. Campbell gave me afterwards the following report of his survey;
I proceeded, accompanied by Jemmy to the Gregory River, and though I endeavoured at several points to effect a crossing, we had to follow the stream about four miles before an eligible place could be found. Here the bottom is hard and stony, with about three feet of water running at a rapid rate. Opposite this point I marked a gumtree with + before broad arrow before L. I then proceeded up the opposite bank, and crossed two dry watercourses, and at about two and a half miles came upon the branch (I presume you to have meant) and found it going in a westerly direction. There was but little water in it so far as I went; and, as it was not running, I do not think water could be traced up any distance. I tried to cross the Gregory at the junction of this creek, but the banks are so boggy I had to return by the way I went.
Saturday November 30. Camp Number 12, situated on Haines Creek.
At 8.35 a.m. left the camp, and at 8.50 made half a mile south-east and reached the river. At 8.57 made a quarter of a mile west. At 9.30 made one mile and a quarter west-south-west along the river. At 9.37 made a quarter of a mile south-west. At 9.55 made three-quarters of a mile south to where there is a crossing-place at rapids, with at least six feet of a fall. Made a delay of twenty minutes from having to go through pandanus and tea-tree scrub, and then over rocks, etc. Made a fair start at 10.20. At 10.35 made half a mile south-west. At 10.45 made half a mile south. At 11.10 made one mile and a half west-south-west. (About here kangaroos are numerous.) At 11.23 made half a mile south-west by west. At 11.40 made three-quarters of a mile west to a single column and wall, which I have called Campbell's Tower. Mr. Campbell and I got into the tower, which we found a delightful shelter from the heat of the sun, while the troopers were getting cabbage-tree sprouts. Started again at 12.54 p.m. At 3.45 made what I supposed to be a branch of the river, as it was hardly running. Having stopped the horses, Jemmy and I went in search of the running water, and also to look for grass for the horses, as we did not remember having seen any on the course we had come for some distance back, except very coarse grass in the bed of the river, and old grass on the bank, which was too dry to be of service. At a quarter of a mile further we found the junction, on the right side of the river, of a well-watered creek which I have named after Sir Francis Murphy. We could not, from its bogginess, cross. We therefore returned, and recrossed at the old place. There we went down the river and crossed between the creek I mentioned. We then followed the same down on the right side about two miles without finding the junction of the running stream; and as it was late we returned to where we had left the main party, and near there formed our thirteenth camp on the left bank of the river.
Sunday December 1. Camp 13, situated on the Gregory River.
On a particular examination of the grass about the camp I had a better opinion of it, and thought it advisable to remain here until I had made a search for the running water. At this camp we had a potful of cabbage-tree sprouts, and we ate a large quantity of it with lime juice which made it resemble rhubarb in taste. It agreed well with us, except with Mr. Campbell, who was slightly sick from eating it.
Monday December 2. Camp 13.
Before starting to look for the running stream Mr. Allison and I clinched and fastened with other nails the shoes on the horses that Jemmy and I were going to ride. We left camp at 7.52 a.m. At 8.30 made one mile and a half east. At 8.53 made one mile further east. At 9.6 half a mile east-north-east to junction of a creek on the right side of the river, which I have named the Wilson Creek. In the fork made by it and the river marked a tree with broad arrow between E. L. At 9.27 we crossed the creek and followed down the river. At 10.4 we made one mile and a quarter north-east (chiefly at some distance from the river, on the top of the high basaltic bank, which, from the want of soil, has nothing on it except triodia and stunted bloodwood-trees) to a point half a mile south of Campbell's Tower and west-south-west from a point about two miles down the river. We started again at 10.13 and reached the rapids in the river, which are about three miles above Number 12 camp; in doing so we kept chiefly at some distance from the river on the barren basaltic rocky ridges, and only crossed two dry watercourses. With some difficulty we crossed at the top of the rapids. A few yards lower the stream is three feet deep and several yards wide. Having now gone round the running water, as the country is very dry on both sides of the river, it follows that this fine stream proceeds from springs in the immediate neighbourhood. We left the rapids to return to camp at 3.22 p.m. at a smart walk. At 4.10 we made two miles and a half to a tree in a narrow pass, which we marked with a broad arrow between E. L. At 4.20 started again, and at 4.40 made one mile to Campbell's Tower; then at 5.9 two miles and a half to a pillar 40 feet high. At 6.14 two miles and three-quarters to camp.
Tuesday December 3. Camp 13.
At 8.15 a.m. we left this camp; crossed the river with the intention of following it on that side when practicable. At 8.26 made a quarter of a mile north-west. At 8.35 made half a mile west-north-west. At 8.50 made half a mile south-west and by west. At 9.4 made half a mile west-north-west. At 9.16 made half a mile west-south-west to junction of another creek from the south, named by me Haughton Creek. At 9.45 made one mile west-south-west to junction of another creek from the south, named by me Dodwell Creek. At 10.12 made one mile west by north. At 10.20 made a quarter of a mile west to junction of another creek from south. At 10.27 made a quarter of a mile north by west. At 10.52 made three-quarters of a mile north-west. At 11.7 made half a mile north-west. At 11.20 made half a mile west and by south. At 11.40 made three-quarters of a mile north-west. At noon made three-quarters of a mile west. At 12.26 made one mile west and by south. At 1 made one mile west by south. At 1.7 made a quarter of a mile south to a point on the right bank, where we formed our fourteenth camp, as we found there water in the river from a recent thunderstorm. The bed of the river we had found perfectly dry for some distance back. The river is badly watered along the course we have come. Below our last camp it has quite a different character. There are now only gumtrees in the bed of it, whereas lower down it was crowded with green trees, consisting chiefly of fig, Leichhardt, drooping tea-tree, cabbage-palm, pandanus, etc. All the country above Camp 11 on the banks of the river is composed of barren, rocky, basaltic ridges, which are slightly timbered with stunted bloodwood trees and overrun with triodia, with the exception of narrow strips of flooded country on each side of the river, on the lowest parts of which there is coarse grass, and on the higher parts there are tufts of the best description of grasses.
Tuesday December 4. Camp Number 14, situated on the Gregory River.
At 7.58 a.m. left camp and at 8.20 made three-quarters of a mile south to opposite junction of creek from south, which I have named Fullarton Creek. At 8.35 a.m. made three-quarters of a mile south-west to the junction of another creek from south. At 8.53 made a quarter of a mile west-south-west. At 9 made three-quarters of a mile west. At 9.20 made three-quarters of a mile west-south-west. At 9.27 made a quarter of a mile west-south-west to junction of creek from west. At 10 made one mile south-west. At 10.35 made one mile south-west to junction of creek from north named by me Dixon Creek. At 10.45 made a quarter of a mile south-west. At 11.20 left main party to go in search of water, with orders to party to return to old camp if not back in an hour. At 11.40 made three-quarters of a mile west to junction of small creek from south. At 11.45 made a quarter of a mile west. At 12.10 p.m. made half a mile north-west. At 12.40 made one mile north-west to junction of creek from south-west which I have named Abbot Creek. At 12.48 made a quarter of a mile south-west up the creek, and marked a tree in its bed. Fisherman got some honey from a tree. At 2.30 made a quarter of a mile south-west, proceeded up the creek. At 2.40 made a quarter of a mile south-west, passed the junction of two small creeks. At 2.58 made three-quarters of a mile south-west by west. At 3.20 made three-quarters of a mile south. At 3.30 made a quarter of a mile south-west to junction of small creek on south side. At 3.53 made three-quarters of a mile south. At 3.58 made a quarter of a mile south-east. At 4.8 made a quarter of a mile south-south-west, at which point, having marked a tree with broad arrow over L and not having found either water or grass since leaving Number 14 camp, we started to return at 5.5. We reached our honey delay tree in about two miles and three-quarters. At dark we reached in about three miles to where we had left our party, when we went in search of water, and in a distance of fully five miles and a quarter to Camp 15, situated about one mile higher up the river than Camp 14. From our companions we learned that Jemmy had been up the river, and although he had been away all day, had returned without finding any water. He observed however a smoke to the southward, where water very probably may be found, as these fires are generally kindled by the natives near water.
Thursday December 5. Camp Number 15.
Mr. Campbell having gone today in search of water, made the following report:
Left camp at 8.15 a.m., accompanied by Jemmy. On reaching the rise above the camp I steered in a south-west direction which we followed for six miles over a barren country intersected in many places by deep gullies or watercourses; one of these we followed to its junction with a very wide channel, larger, in my opinion, than the Gregory at the point where we left that stream. From its appearance I imagine it has not been visited by a flood for a considerable period, as in many places it is overgrown with rank grass and young timber.