Explorations in Australia, The Journals of John McDouall Stuart
John McDouall Stuart

Part 3 out of 7

dead mulga. We have seen no water since we left the creek. Distance,
eighteen miles. I was obliged to camp without water for ourselves. As we
crossed the Neale we saw fish in it of a good size, about eight inches
long, from which I should say that the water is permanent. I shall have
to run to the west to-morrow, for there is no appearance of this scrubby
country terminating. I must have a whole day of it.

Sunday, 25th March, Mulga Scrub. I can see no termination, on this
course, to this thick scrub. I can scarcely see one hundred yards before
me. I shall therefore bear to the west, cut the Neale River, and see what
sort of country is in that direction. At ten miles made it; the water
still running, but not so rapidly. The gum-trees still existed in its
bed, and there were large pools of water on the side courses. We had the
same thick scrub to within a quarter of a mile of the creek, where we met
a line of red sand hills covered with a spinifex. The range on the
south-west side of the creek seemed to terminate here, and become low
table land, apparently covered with a thick scrub, the creek coming more
from the north. I did not like the appearance of the spinifex, an
indication of desert to the westward. Camped on the creek. Wind
north-west; heavy clouds from the same direction.

Monday, 26th March, The Neale River West. I am obliged to remain here
to-day to repair damages done to the packs and bags, which have been torn
all to pieces; it will take the whole of the day to put them in order. We
have seen very few signs of natives visiting this part of the country. I
shall go north to-morrow and try to get through this scrub. Wind south,
sky overcast with heavy clouds; looks very like rain.

Tuesday, 27th March, West Neales. Rained very heavily during the night,
and is still doing so, but less copiously. About noon it cleared up a
little. I have sent Kekwick to get a notion of the country on the other
side of the low range, while I endeavour to obtain an observation of the
sun. The range is scrubby, composed of a light-coloured and dark-red
conglomerate volcanic rock, easily broken. The view from it is not
extensive. At a mile from the creek the sand ceases, and stony ground
succeeds up to the range. Feed excellent south-west from the camp. To the
eastward rugged hills, apparently with fine open grass and forest lands.
Numerous rows of water holes visible. To the south-east, country more
open. To the south-south-east and south still the same good country. From
south to west the same; hills to the west from five to eight miles
distant. View from another hill north-west two miles and a half. The
hills on the west still continue towards the north-west, but become
lower. Country scrubby, with occasional patches of open grass land. Creek
coming in from north-north-west. From north-west to north-north-east
mulga scrub. From north-north-east to east low range in the distance,
like table land. Too cloudy to take an observation; occasional showers
during the day. Wind south-south-east; still looking very black.
Repairing my saddles; some of my horses are getting bad backs.

Wednesday, 28th March, West Neale River. Started on a north course to get
through the mulga scrub. At ten miles could see the range to the
north-east. The scrubby land now became sand hills; I could see no high
ground on ahead, the scrub becoming thicker; it seemed to be a country
similar to that I passed through on my south-east course (first journey),
and I think is a continuation of it. I therefore changed my course to the
north-east range, bearing 35 degrees. After five miles through the same
description of country, mulga scrub with plenty of grass, we arrived at
water, where three creeks join, one from the south-west, one
west-north-west, and the other from about north-west. The water was still
running in the one from the west-north-west with large long water holes;
also water holes in the other two; gum-trees in the creek. I suppose this
to be the Frew; excellent feed on the banks of the creek up to the range,
which is stony. I ascended the table range in order to have a view of the
country round. To this point the range comes from east-south-east, but
here it takes a turn to the east of north, all flat-topped and stony,
with mulga bushes on the top and sides; the rocks are of a light, flinty
nature. At about six miles north the country seems to be open and stony.
That country I shall steer for to-morrow. To the north-east is the range,
but it seems to drop into low table land; distant about fifteen miles. To
the north-west and west is the thick mulga, scrubby country. There are
numerous tracks of natives in the different creeks, quite fresh,
apparently made to-day. Wind south-east; clouds.

Thursday, 29th March, The Frew. Started on a north course. At one mile,
after crossing a stony hill with mulga, we suddenly came upon the creek
again; it winds round the hill. Here another branch joins it from the
north, the other coming from the east of north. Along the base of the
range there were very large water holes in both branches. The natives had
evidently camped here last night; their fires were still alight; they
seemed only just to have left. From the numerous fires I should think
there had been a great number of natives here. All round about in every
direction were numerous tracks. We also observed a number of winter
habitations on the banks of the creek; also a large native grave,
composed of sand, earth, wood, and stones. It was of a circular form,
about four feet and a half high, and twenty to twenty-four yards in
circumference. The mulga continued for about six miles; but at three
miles we again crossed the north branch of the creek, coming now from the
north-west. The mulga was not thick except on the top of the rises, where
splendid grass was growing all through it. We now came upon the open
stony country, with a few mulga creeks. There was a little salt bush, but
an immense quantity of green grass, growing about a foot high, which gave
to the country a beautiful appearance. It seemed to be the same all round
as far as I could see. At fourteen miles we struck the other branch,
where it joined, with splendid reaches of water, to the main one, which
now came from the west of north, and continued to where our line cut the
east branch. This seems to be the place where it takes its rise. Camped
for the night. The whole of the country that we have travelled through
to-day is the best for grass that I have ever gone through. I have
nowhere seen its equal. From the number of natives, from there being
winter and summer habitations, and from the native grave, I am led to
conclude the water there is permanent. The gum-trees are large. I saw

Friday, 30th March, Small Branch of The Frew. Course north. At two miles
and a half changed to 332 degrees to a distant hill, apparently a range
of flat-topped hills. At sixteen miles crossed a large gum creek running
to the south of east; it spreads out over a flat between rough hills of
half a mile wide. The bed is very sandy; it will not retain water long.
On the surface it very much resembles the Douglas, but is broader, and
the gum-trees much larger. There were some rushes growing in its bed. I
have named it the Ross. We then ascended the low range for which I had
been steering. Four miles from the creek it is rough and stony, composed
of igneous rock, with scrub, mulga, and plenty of grass quite to the top.
To continue this course would lead me again into the mulga scrub, where I
do not want to get if I can help it. It is far worse than guiding a
vessel at sea; the compass requires to be constantly in hand. I again
changed to the north, which appears to be open in the distance. I could
see another range of flat-topped hills. After crossing over several small
spurs coming from the range, and a number of small creeks, volcanic, and
stony, we struck another large gum creek coming from the south of west,
and running to the south-east. It was a fine creek. These courses of
water spread over a grassy plain a mile wide; the water holes were long
and deep, with numerous plants growing on their banks, indicating
permanent water. The wild oats on the bank of the creek were four feet
high. The country gone over to-day, although stony, was completely
covered with grass and salt bush; it was even better than that passed
yesterday. Some of the grass resembled the drake, some the wild wheat,
and some rye--the same as discovered by Captain Sturt. There is a light
shade over the horizon from south-east to north-west, indicating the
presence of a lake in that direction. I have named it after my friend Mr.
Stevenson. There are small fish in the holes of this creek, and mussel
shells, also crabs about two inches by one inch and a half.

Saturday, 31st March, The Stevenson. I am obliged to remain here to-day;
my horses require shoeing. The country cuts up the shoes very much.

Sunday, 1st April, The Stevenson. I find to-day that my right eye, from
the long continuation of bad eyes, is now become useless to me for taking
observations. I now see two suns instead of one, which has led me into an
error of a few miles. I trust to goodness my other eye will not become
the same; as long as it remains good, I can do. Wind east; cool. Heavy

Monday, 2nd April, The Stevenson. Started at 8 o'clock; course 355
degrees to distant hills. At six miles we struck a gum creek with water
in it, but not permanent. At ten miles we crossed another, running
between rugged hills; a little water coming from the west and running
east-south-east through a mass of hills. At twelve miles crossed a valley
a quarter of a mile broad, through which a gum creek runs, with an
immense quantity of drift timber lying on its banks. At twenty miles
arrived at the first part of the range, and at twenty-eight miles camped
on a gum creek running east and coming from the south of west. The first
three miles of to-day's journey were over good country; it then became
rather scrubby, with numerous small creeks and valleys running to the
east. Plenty of grass and salt-bush, with gravel, ironstone, and lime on
the surface. At a mile before we made the rugged creek the ironstone
became less, and a hard white stone took its place, and continued to the
range, on which it is also found. Gypsum, chalk, ironstone, quartz, and
other stones, are the chief materials of which it and the other hills are
composed. There are also a few of a hard red sandstone. The range is
broken, and running nearly east and west. The country round is slightly
undulating; numerous small creeks running to the eastward, with a deal of
grass and salt-bush. No water in this creek. Camped without. Wind east.

Tuesday, 3rd April, Gum Creek, South of Range. Ascended the hill at three
miles from last night's camp. The country very rough, stony, and scrubby
to the base. The view from it is very extensive. I have named it Mount
Beddome, after S. Beddome, Esquire, of Adelaide. To the west is another
broken range, about fifteen miles distant, of a dark-red colour, running
nearly north and south. The country between is apparently open, with
patches of scrub. A gum creek comes from the south-west and runs some
distance to the north-east; it then turns to the east. In the distant
west appears a dense scrub. On a bearing of 330 degrees there is a large
isolated table hill, for which I shall shape my course, to see if I can
get an entrance that way. To the north are a number of broken hills and
peaks with scrub between; they are of every shape and size. To the east
another flat-topped range; country between also scrubby; apparently open.
Close to the range, distant about twenty miles saw hills in the far
distance; to the east another flat-topped small range; between it and the
other the creek seems to run. The highest point of it bears 80 degrees,
and I have named it Mount Daniel, after Mr. Daniel Kekwick, of Adelaide.
From east to south-east the country is open and grassy; low ranges in the
distance. Saw some rain water, bearing 30 degrees, to which I will go,
and give the horses a drink; they had none last night. Distance, two
miles. Obtained an observation of the sun, 118 degrees 17 minutes 30
seconds. At six miles crossed the broad bed of a large gum creek; gravel;
no water. At eight miles the red sand hills commence, covered with
spinifex; and on the small flats mulga scrub, which continues to the base
of the hill. Red loose sand; no water. Distance, twenty miles from Mount
Beddome to this hill. The country good, until we get among the spinifex.

Wednesday, 4th April, Mount Humphries. At break of day ascended the
mount, which is composed of a soft white coarse sandstone. On the top is
a quantity of water-worn quartz, cemented into large masses. The view is
much the same as from Mount Beddome, broken ranges all round the horizon,
and apparently a dense scrub from south-west to west. It then becomes an
open and grassy country, with alternate patches of scrub. I can see a gum
creek about two miles distant; I can also see water in it, which the
horses have not yet discovered. I shall therefore go in that direction,
and give them a drink. To the north and eastward the country appears
good. Went to the aforesaid water, to see if there is any that I can
depend upon. On my return, wanting to correct my instrument, which met
with an accident three or four days ago, by the girths getting under the
horse's belly (he bolted and kicked it off), I sent Kekwick to examine
the creek that I saw coming from the north. He says there is plenty of
water to serve our purpose. The creek is very large, with the finest
gum-trees we have yet seen, all sizes and heights. This seems to be a
favourite place for the natives to camp, as there are eleven worleys in
one encampment. We saw here a number of new parrots, the black cockatoo,
and numerous other birds. The creek runs over a space of about two miles,
coming from the west; the bed sandy. After leaving it, on a bearing of
329 degrees, for nine miles, we passed over a plain of as fine a country
as any man would wish to see--a beautiful red soil covered with grass a
foot high; after that it becomes a little sandy. At fifteen miles we got
into some sand hills, but the feed was still most abundant. I have not
passed through such splendid country since I have been in the colony. I
only hope it may continue. The creek I have named the Finke, after
William Finke, Esquire, of Adelaide, my sincere and tried friend, and one
of the liberal supporters of the different explorations I have had the
honour to lead. Wind south-east. Cloudy.

Thursday, April 5th, Good Country. Started on the same course to some
hills, through sand hills and spinifex for ten miles. Halted for half an
hour to obtain an observation of the sun, 117 degrees 6 minutes. Within
the last mile or two we have passed a few patches of shea-oak, growing
large, having a very rough and thick bark, nearly black. They have a
dismal appearance. The spinifex now ceased, and grass began to take its
place as we approached the hills. From the top of the hill the view is
limited, except to the south-west, where, in the far distance, is a long
range. The country between seems to be scrub, red sand hills, and
spinifex. To the west the country is open, but at five miles is
intercepted by the point of the range that I am about to cross. To the
north-west and east is a mass of flat-topped hills, of every size and
shape, running always to the east. Camped on the head of a small gum
creek, among the hills, which are composed of the same description of
stones as the others. This water hole is three feet deep, and will last a
month or so. The native cucumber is growing here.

Friday, 6th April, Small Gum Creek in Range of Hills. Started on the same
course, 330 degrees, to a remarkable hill, which has the appearance at
this distance of a locomotive engine with its funnel. For three miles the
country is very good, but after that high sand hills succeeded, covered
with spinifex. At six miles we got to one of the largest gum creeks I
have yet seen. It is much the same as the one we saw on the 4th, and the
water in it is running. Great difficulty in crossing it, its bed being
quicksand. We were nearly across, when I saw a black fellow among the
bushes; I pulled up, and called to him. At first he seemed at a loss to
know where the sound came from. As soon, however, as he saw the other
horses coming up, he took to his heels, and was off like a shot, and we
saw no more of him. As far as I can judge, the creek comes from the
south-west, but the sand hills are so high, and the large black shea-oak
so thick, that I cannot distinguish the creek very well. These trees look
so much like gums in the distance; some of them are very large, as also
are the gums in the creek. Numerous tracks of blacks all about. It is the
upper part of the Finke, and at this point runs through high sand hills
(red), covered with spinifex, which it is very difficult to get the
horses through. We passed through a few patches of good grassy country.
In the sand hills the oak is getting more plentiful. We were
three-quarters of an hour in crossing the creek, and obtained an
observation of the sun, 116 degrees 26 minutes 15 seconds. We then
proceeded on the same course towards the remarkable pillar, through high,
heavy sand hills, covered with spinifex, and, at twelve miles from last
night's camp, arrived at it. It is a pillar of sandstone, standing on a
hill upwards of one hundred feet high. From the base of the pillar to its
top is about one hundred and fifty feet, quite perpendicular; and it is
twenty feet wide by ten feet deep, with two small peaks on the top. I
have named it Chambers Pillar, in honour of James Chambers, Esquire, who,
with William Finke, Esquire, has been my great supporter in all my
explorations. To the north and north-east of it are numerous remarkable
hills, which have a very striking effect in the landscape; they resemble
nothing so much as a number of old castles in ruins; they are standing in
the midst of sand hills. Proceeded, still on the same course, through the
sand rises, spinifex, and low sandstone hills, at the foot of which we
saw some rain water, where I camped. To the south-west are some high
hills, through which I think the Finke comes. I would follow it up, but
the immense quantity of sand in its bed shows that it comes from a sandy
country, which I wish to avoid if I can. Wind south-east. Heavy clouds;
very like rain.

Saturday, 7th April, Rain Water under Sandstone Hills. Started on the
same course 330 degrees, over low sand rises and spinifex, for six miles.
It then became a plain of red soil, with mulga bushes, and for seven
miles was as fine a grassed country as any one would wish to look at; it
could be cut with a scythe. Dip of the country to the east, sand hills to
the west; afterwards it became alternate sand hills and grassy plains,
mulga, mallee, and black oak. From the top of one of the sand hills, I
can see a range which our line will cut; I shall make to the foot of that
to-night, and I expect I shall find a creek with water there. Proceeded
through another long plain sloping towards the creek, and covered with
grass. At about one mile from the creek we again met with sand hills and
spinifex, which continued to it. Arrived and camped; found water. It is
very broad, with a sandy bottom, which will not retain water long;
beautiful grass on both banks. Wind east, and cool.

Sunday, 8th April, The Hugh Gum Creek. I have named this creek the Hugh,
and the range James Range. It is scrubby on this side and is not
flat-topped as all the others have been, which indicates a change of
country. On the other side the bearing is nearly east and west. Examined
the creek, but cannot find sufficient water to depend upon for any length
of time; the gum-trees are large. Numerous parrots, black cockatoos, and
other birds. Wind east; very cold during the night.

Monday, 9th April, The Hugh Gum Creek. Started for the highest point of
the James range. At four miles arrived on the top, through a very thick
scrub of mulga; the range is composed of soft red sandstone, long blocks
of it lying on the side. To the east, apparently red sand hills, beyond
which are seen the tops of other hills to the north-east. On the
north-west the view is intercepted by a high, broken range, with two very
remarkable bluffs about the centre. I shall direct my course to the east
bluff, which is apparently the higher of the two. In the intermediate
country are three lower ranges, between which are flats of green grass,
and red sand hills. To the west are grassy flats next to the creek;
beyond these are seen the tops of distant ranges and broken hills; at
about six miles the Hugh seems to turn more to the north, towards a very
rough range of red sandstone. We then descended into a grassy flat with a
few gum-trees. We have had a very great difficulty in crossing the range,
and now I am again stopped by another low range of the same description,
which is nearly perpendicular--huge masses of red sandstone on its side,
and in the valley a number of old native camps. After following the range
three miles, we at last found out a place to cross it. Although this is
not half the height of James range, we encountered far more difficulty;
the scrub was very dense, a great quantity having withered and fallen
down: we could scarcely get the horses to face it. Our course was also
intercepted by deep, perpendicular ravines, which we were obliged to
round after a great deal of trouble, having our saddlebags torn to
pieces, and our skin and clothes in the same predicament. We arrived at
the foot nearly naked, and got into open sandy rises and valleys, with
mulga and plenty of grass, among which there is some spinifex growing. At
sundown, after having gone about eight miles further, we made a large gum
creek, in which we found some water; it is very broad, with a sand and
gravel bottom. Camped, both men and horses being very tired.

Tuesday, 10th April, Gum Creek, Bend of the Hugh. I find our saddle-bags
and harness are so much torn and broken that I cannot proceed until they
are repaired. I am compelled with great reluctance to remain here to-day.
This creek is running to the west. On ascending a sand hill this morning,
I find that it is the Hugh (which seems to drain the sand hills) that we
saw to the east from the top of James range. There is another branch
between us and the high ranges. At about four miles west it seems to
break through the rough range and join the Hugh. A large number of native
encampments here, and rushes are growing in and about the creek: there is
plenty of water.

Wednesday, 11th April, Bend of the Hugh. Got the things put pretty well
to rights, and started towards the high bluff. I find that my poor little
mare, Polly, has got staked in the fetlock-joint, and is nearly dead
lame; but I must proceed. At six miles and a half we again crossed the
Hugh, and at another mile found it coming through the range, which is a
double one. The south range is red sandstone, the next is hard white
stone, and also red sandstone, with a few hills of ironstone; a
well-grassed valley lying between. The two gorges are rocky, and in some
places perpendicular, with some gum-trees growing on the sides. The
cucumber plant thrives here in great quantities, and water is abundant.
At twelve miles we got through both the gorges of the range, which I have
named the Waterhouse Range, after the Honourable the Colonial Secretary.
The country between last night's camp and the range is a red sandy soil,
with a few sand hills, on which is growing the spinifex, but the valleys
between are broad and beautifully grassed. At fifteen miles again crossed
the Hugh, coming from the east, with splendid gum-trees of every size
lining the banks. The pine was also met with here for the first time.
There is a magnificent hole of water here, long and deep, with rushes
growing round it. I think it is a spring; the water seems to come from
below a large bed of conglomerate quartz. I should say it was permanent.
Black cockatoos and other birds abound here, and there are numbers of
native tracks all about. I hoped to-day to have gained the top of the
bluff, which is still seven or eight miles off, and appears to be so very
rough that I anticipate a deal of difficulty in crossing it. I am forced
to halt at this bend of the creek, in consequence of the little mare
becoming so lame that she is unable to proceed further to-day. Our hands
are very bad from being torn by the scrub, and the flies are a perfect
torment. Indications of scurvy are beginning to show themselves upon us.
Wind west; cool night.

Thursday 12th April, The Hugh. Started for the bluff. At eight miles we
again struck the creek coming from the west, and several other gum creeks
coming from the range and joining it. We have now entered the lower hills
of the range. Again have we travelled through a splendid country for
grass, but as we approached the creek it became a little stony. At twelve
miles we found a number of springs in the range. Here I obtained an
observation of the sun. As we approached near the bluff, our route became
very difficult; we could not get up the creek for precipices, and were
obliged to turn in every direction. About two miles from where I obtained
the observation, we arrived with great difficulty at the foot of the
bluff; it has taken us all the afternoon. I expected to have gone to the
top of it to-night, but it is too late. It will take half a day, it is so
high and rough. We are camped at a good spring, where I have found a very
remarkable palm-tree, with light-green fronds ten feet long, having small
leaves a quarter of an inch in breadth, and about eight inches in length,
and a quarter of an inch apart, growing from each side, and coming to a
sharp point. They spread out like the top of the grass-tree, and the
fruit has a large kernel about the size of an egg, with a hard shell; the
inside has the taste of a cocoa-nut, but when roasted is like a potato.
Here we have also the india-rubber tree, the cork-tree, and several new
plants. This is the only real range that I have met with since leaving
the Flinders range. I have named it the McDonnell Range, after his
Excellency the Governor-in-Chief of South Australia, as a token of my
gratitude for his kindness to me on many occasions. The east bluff I have
named Brinkley Bluff, after Captain Brinkley, of Adelaide, and the west
one I have named Hanson Bluff, after the Honourable R. Hanson, of
Adelaide. The range is composed of gneiss rock and quartz.

Friday, 13th April, Brinkley Bluff, McDonnell Range. At sunrise I
ascended the bluff, which is the most difficult hill I have ever climbed;
it took me an hour and a half to reach the top. It is very high, and is
composed principally of igneous rock, with a little ironstone, much the
same as the ranges down the country. On reaching the top, I was
disappointed; the view was not so good as I expected, in consequence of
the morning being so very hazy. I have, however, been enabled to decide
what course to take. To the south-west the Waterhouse and James ranges
seem to join. At west-south-west they are hidden by one of the spurs of
the McDonnell range. To the north-west the view is intercepted by another
point of this range, on which is a high peak, which I have named Mount
Hay, after the Honourable Alexander Hay, the Commissioner of Crown Lands.
About five miles to the north are numerous small spurs, beyond which
there is an extensive wooded or scrubby plain; and beyond that, in the
far distance, is another range, broken by a high conical hill, bearing
about west-north-west, to which I will go, after getting through the
range. To the north-east is the end of another range coming from the
south. On this, which I have named Strangway Range, after the Honourable
the Attorney-General, is another high hill. Beyond is a luminous, hazy
appearance, as if it proceeded from a large body of water. A little more
to the east there are three high hills; the middle one, which I should
think is upwards of thirty miles from us, is the highest, and is bluff at
both ends; it seems to be connected with Strangway range. To the east is
a complete mass of ranges, with the same luminous appearance behind them.
I had a terrible job in getting down the bluff; one false step and I
should have been dashed to pieces in the abyss below; I was thankful when
I arrived safely at the foot. I find that I have taken the wrong creek to
get through the bluff. The Hugh still comes in that way, but more to the
westward. Started at 10 o'clock; the hills very bad to get over; wind
easterly. Camped at sundown on the creek; there is an abundance of water,
which apparently is permanent, from the number of rushes growing all
about it. The feed is splendid. There are a number of fresh native

Saturday, 14th April, McDonnell Range. Started at 8 o'clock to follow the
creek, as it seems to be the best way of getting through the other
ranges; but, as it comes too much from the east, I must leave it, and get
through at some of the low hills further down. This we at last contrived
to do after a severe struggle. It has taken us the whole day to come
about five miles. We are now camped, north of the bluff, at a gorge, in
which there is a good spring of water; the creeks now run north from the

Sunday, 15th April, The North Gorge of McDonnell Range. I ascended the
high hill on the east side of the gorge; the atmosphere being much
clearer, I got a better view of the country. To the north-west, between
the McDonnell range and the conical hill north-north-west, is a large
plain, apparently scrub; no hills on the horizon, but a light shade in
the far distance; the conical hill bears 340 degrees from this; it
appears to be high. From the foot of this, for about five miles, is an
open grassy country, with a few small patches of bushes. A number of gum
creeks come from the ranges, and seem to empty themselves in the plains.
The country in the ranges is as fine a pastoral hill-country as a man
would wish to possess; grass to the top of the hills, and abundance of
water through the whole of the ranges. I forgot to mention that the nut
we found on the south side of the range is not fit to eat; it caused both
men to vomit violently. I ate one, but it had no bad effect on me.

Monday, 16th April, The North Gorge of McDonnell Range. Started at 9
o'clock to cross the scrub for the distant high peak. For five miles the
plain was open and well grassed: afterwards it became thick, with mulga
bushes and other scrubs. At twenty miles we again encountered the
spinifex, which continued until we camped after dark. Distance, thirty
miles. Met with no creek or watercourse after leaving the McDonnell

Tuesday, 17th April, In the Scrub. Got an early start, and continued
through the scrub and spinifex on the same course, 340 degrees. At three
miles passed a small stony hill, about two miles to the west of our
course. At eighteen miles saw to the west two prominent bluff hills, and
two or three small ones, about ten miles distant from us. At thirty-two
miles crossed a strong rise. There are three reap-hook hills about three
miles west, their steep side facing the south. At sundown reached the
hills. At two miles passed a small sandy gum creek, the only watercourse
we have seen between the two ranges. Followed the range to the north-west
till after dark, hoping to find a gum creek coming from the range, but
without success; nothing but rocky and sandy watercourses. Camped. The
poor horses again without water; I trust that I shall find some for them
in the morning; if not, I shall have to return to the McDonnell range.
Very little rain seems to have fallen here; the grass is all dried up.
The spinifex continues until within a mile of the range. The small gum
creek that we passed is running south-west into the scrub.

Wednesday, 18th April, Under the High Peak, Mount Freeling. At daybreak
sent Kekwick in search of water, while I ascended the high mount to see
if any could be seen from that place. To my great delight I beheld a
little in a creek on the other side of the range, bearing 113 degrees,
about a mile and a half. I find this is not quite the highest point of
the range; there is another hill, still higher, about fifteen miles
further to the north-north-west. About two miles off I can see a gum
creek looking very green, coming from the range in the direction in which
I have sent Kekwick, where I hope he will find water. The country from
west to north-east is a mass of hills and broken ranges; to the
south-west high broken ranges. To the north-north-east is another hill,
with a plain of scrub between. To the south-east scrub, with tops of
hills in the far distance. Brinkley Bluff bears 166 degrees and Mount Hay
186 degrees. Returned to the camp, and find to my great satisfaction that
Kekwick has discovered some water in the creek about two miles off. I am
very glad of it, for I am sure that some of my horses would not have
stood the journey back without it. I must not leave this range without
endeavouring to find a permanent water, as no rain seems to have fallen
to the north of us; everything is so dry, one would think it was the
middle of summer. The sun is also very hot, but the nights and mornings
are cool. Wind east. Old tracks and native camps about. The range is
composed of the same description of rocks as the McDonnell ranges, with
rather more quartz than mica. We here found new shrubs and flowers, also
a small brown pigeon with a crest. I have built a small cone of stones on
the peak, and named it Mount Freeling, after the Honourable Colonel
Freeling, Surveyor-General. The range I have called the Reynolds, after
the Honourable Thomas Reynolds, the Treasurer.

Thursday, 19th April, Mount Hugh. The horses separated during the night,
and were not found until after one o'clock. Moved to the east side of the
mount to where I had seen the water from the top. We found plenty of
water in the gum creek which is the head of the one we crossed on Tuesday
night, just before making the range. We were obliged to come a long way
round before we could get to it, the hills being all rough sharp rocks,
impassable for horses; abundance of grass with a little spinifex on the
hills. At this camp I have marked a tree "J. M.D. S."; the cone of stones
on the top of the mount bears 293 degrees. Ten miles distant in a branch
creek about half a mile to the north of this is more water; and a little
higher up, in a ledge of rocks, is a splendid reservoir of water, thirty
yards in diameter and about one hundred yards in circumference. We could
not get to the middle to try the depth, but where we tried it it was
twelve feet deep. A few yards higher up is another ledge of rocks, behind
which is a second reservoir, but smaller, having a drainage into the
former one. Native tracks about. Wind north. I have named this Anna's
Reservoir, after Mr. James Chambers' youngest daughter.

Friday, 20th April, East Side of Mount Hugh. Started to the south-east to
find a crossing place over the range; this was not an easy matter, from
the roughness of the hills; at last, however, we got over it. On the
other side we found a large gum creek with water in it, running to the
north-east. Camped. The range is well grassed, with gum creeks coming
from it, and a little mulga scrub. Here we have discovered a new tree,
whose dark-green leaf has the shape of two wide prongs; the seed or bean,
of which I have obtained a few, is of a red colour; the foliage is very
thick. The stem of the largest we have seen is about eighteen inches in
diameter. The wood is soft; when in the state of a bush it has thorns on
it like a rose. Here we have also obtained some seed of the vegetable we
have been using; we have found this vegetable most useful; it can be
eaten as a salad, boiled as a vegetable, or cooked as a fruit. We have
also some other seeds of new flowers. The bearing from this to the cone
of stones on Hugh Mount, 233 degrees 45 minutes.

Saturday, 21st April, Gum Creek, East Side of Mount Freeling. Started at
half-past seven across the scrub to another high hill. For seven miles
the scrub is open, and the land beautifully grassed. At twelve miles from
the camp we crossed another gum creek, coming from the range; as far as I
could see it ran to the north-east. After seven miles the scrub became
much thicker. We had great difficulty in getting through, from the
quantity of dead timber, which has torn our saddle-bags and clothes to
pieces. There are a number of gum-trees, and the new tree that was found
on Captain Sturt's expedition, 1844, but mulga predominates. At fourteen
miles we struck a large gum plain, but after a short time again entered
the scrub. At about twenty-two miles met another arm of the gum plains,
with large granite rocks nearly level with the surface. We found rain
water in the holes of these rocks. At thirty-two miles crossed the sandy
bed of a large gum creek divided into a number of channels; too dark to
see any water. Four miles further on, camped on a small gum creek with a
little rain water; the creeks are running to the north-east. The soil is
of a red sandy colour: the grass most abundant throughout the whole day's
journey. Occasionally we met with a few hundred yards of spinifex. Wind
south-east. Native tracks quite fresh in the scrub and plain; we also
passed several old worleys.

Sunday, 22nd April, Small Gum Creek, under Mount Stuart, Centre of
Australia. To-day I find from my observations of the sun, 111 degrees 00
minutes 30 seconds, that I am now camped in the centre of Australia. I
have marked a tree and planted the British flag there. There is a high
mount about two miles and a half to the north-north-east. I wish it had
been in the centre; but on it to-morrow I will raise a cone of stones,
and plant the flag there, and name it Central Mount Stuart. We have been
in search of permanent water to-day, but cannot find any. I hope from the
top of Central Mount Stuart to find something good to the north-west.
Wind south. Examined a large creek; can find no surface water, but got
some by scratching in the sand. It is a large creek divided into many
channels, but they are all filled with sand; splendid grass all round
this camp.

Monday, 23rd April, Centre. Took Kekwick and the flag, and went to the
top of the mount, but found it to be much higher and more difficult of
ascent than I anticipated. After a deal of labour, slips, and knocks, we
at last arrived on the top. It is quite as high as Mount Serle, if not
higher. The view to the north is over a large plain of gums, mulga, and
spinifex, with watercourses running through it. The large gum creek that
we crossed winds round this hill in a north-east direction; at about ten
miles it is joined by another. After joining they take a course more
north, and I lost sight of them in the far-distant plain. To the
north-north-east is the termination of the hills; to the north-east, east
and south-east are broken ranges, and to the north-north-west the ranges
on the west side of the plain terminate. To the north-west are broken
ranges; and to the west is a very high peak, between which and this place
to the south-west are a number of isolated hills. Built a large cone of
stones, in the centre of which I placed a pole with the British flag
nailed to it. Near the top of the cone I placed a small bottle, in which
there is a slip of paper, with our signatures to it, stating by whom it
was raised. We then gave three hearty cheers for the flag, the emblem of
civil and religious liberty, and may it be a sign to the natives that the
dawn of liberty, civilization, and Christianity is about to break upon
them. We can see no water from the top. Descended, but did not reach the
camp till after dark. This water still continues, which makes me think
there must certainly be more higher up. I have named the range John
Range, after my friend and well-wisher, John Chambers, Esquire, brother
to James Chambers, Esquire, one of the promoters of this expedition.

Tuesday, 24th April, Central Mount Stuart. Sent Kekwick in search of
water, and to examine a hill that has the appearance of having a cone of
stones upon it; meanwhile I made up my plan, and Ben mended the
saddlebags, which were in a sad mess from coming through the scrub.
Kekwick returned in the afternoon, having found water higher up the
creek. He has also found a new rose of a beautiful description, having
thorns on its branches, and a seed-vessel resembling a gherkin. It has a
sweet, strong perfume; the leaves are white, but as the flower is
withered, I am unable to describe it. The native orange-tree abounds
here. Mount Stuart is composed of hard red sandstone, covered with
spinifex, and a little scrub on the top. The white ant abounds in the
scrubs, and we even found some of their habitations near the top of Mount

Wednesday, 25th April, Central Mount Stuart. There is a remarkable hill
about two miles to the west, having another small hill at the north end
in the shape of a bottle; this I have named Mount Esther, at the request
of the maker of the flag. Started at 9 o'clock, on a course a little
north of west, to the high peak that I saw from the top of Mount Stuart,
which bears 272 degrees. My reason for going west is that I do not like
the appearance of the country to the north for finding water; it seems to
be sandy. From the peak I expect to find another stratum to take me up to
the north-north-west. Around the mount and on the west side, the country
is well grassed, and red sandy soil; no stones. To the north and south of
our line are several isolated hills, composed principally of granite. At
ten miles there is a quartz reef on the north side of the south hills. At
twelve miles struck a gum creek coming from the south and running to the
north; it has three channels. We found a little rain water in one, and
camped, to enable us to finish the mending of the saddle-bags. Wind east;
very cold morning and night. The large creek that flowed round Mount
Stuart is named the Hanson, after the Honourable R. Hanson, of Adelaide.

Thursday, 26th April, Gum Creek on West Course. Started at a quarter past
8 o'clock on the same course for the high peak. At two miles crossed some
low granite and quartz hills; and at four miles crossed a gum creek
running to the north with sand and gravel beds. No water. The country
then became difficult to get through, in consequence of the number of
dead mulga bushes. At ten miles the grass ceased, and spinifex took its
place, and continued to the banks of the next gum creek, which we crossed
at twenty-two miles; the bed sandy, and divided into a number of
channels, coming from the south-east, and running a little to the east of
north, but no water in them. Native tracks in its bed. On the west side
of the creek the grass again begins, and continues to the hills, where we
arrived at five minutes to 7. Camped without water. There seems to have
been very little rain here--the grass and everything else is quite dry.
Distance, thirty-eight miles.

Friday, 27th April, East Side of Mount Denison. Sent Kekwick to the
south-west to a remarkable hill which I hope may yield some water, with
orders to return immediately if he should find any nearer, so that we
might get some for the horses. I waited till past 12, but he did not
return, so I started, intending to go to the top of the mount. On getting
to the north-east side of the ranges, I liked the appearance of the
country for water, and seeing that the top of the mount was still some
distance off, and that it would make it too late to return, I set to work
myself to look for water. After an hour's search I was successful,
finding some rain water in a gum creek coming from the hills. The natives
must have been there quite recently, as their fires were still warm; and,
as I had left the camp and provisions with only one man, I hurried back,
had the horses saddled and packed, and brought them down to the water,
leaving a note for Kekwick to follow in a west-north-west direction to a
gum creek about three miles distant. Kekwick's search was also
successful; he found permanent water under the high peak to which I sent
him, and which I have named Mount Leichardt, in memory of that
unfortunate explorer, whose fate is still a mystery. I have seen no trace
of his having passed to the westward. Kekwick describes the water he has
found as abundant and beautifully clear, springing out of conglomerate
rock much resembling marble; its length is upwards of a quarter of a
mile, falling into natural basins in the solid rock, some six feet in
depth and of considerable capacity. The country round the base of the
range is covered with the most luxuriant grass and vegetation. Mount
Leichardt and the range are composed, at their base, of a soft
conglomerate rock in immense irregular masses, heaped one on the other;
the higher part where the spring appears is of the same conglomerate, but
broad and solid, having smooth faces, which makes the ascent very

Saturday, 28th April, Gum Creek under Mount Denison. As soon as the
horses were caught I started for the top of the mount. I left my horse in
a small rocky gum creek which I thought would lead me to the foot of the
mount. At about a quarter of a mile from the mouth of the gorge, I came
upon some water in a rocky hole, followed it up, and, two hundred yards
further, was stopped by a perpendicular precipice with water trickling
over it into a large reservoir. I had now to take to the hills, which
were very rough, and after a deal of difficulty I arrived, as I thought,
at the top, but to my disappointment I had to go down a fearfully steep
gully. At it I went, and again I arrived, as I fancied, at the top, but
here again was another gully to cross, and a rise still higher. I have at
last arrived at the summit, after a deal of labour and many scratches.
This is certainly the highest mountain I have yet ascended; it has taken
me full three hours to get to the summit. The view is extensive, but not
encouraging. Central Mount Stuart bears 95 degrees. Mount Leichardt, 155
degrees 30 minutes. To the south, broken ranges with wooded plains before
them, and in the far distance, scarcely visible, appears to be a very
high mountain, a long, long way off. To the south-west the same
description of range. About thirty miles to the west is a high mount with
open country, and patches of woodland in the foreground. At the
north-west there appears to be an immense open plain with patches of
wood. To the north is another plain becoming more wooded to the
north-east. As this is the highest mountain that I have seen in Central
Australia, I have taken the liberty of naming it Mount Denison, after his
Excellency Sir William Denison, K.C.B., Governor-General. The next range
(bearing 334 degrees), being the last of the highest ones north, I have
named Mount Barkly, after his Excellency Sir Henry Barkly,
Governor-in-Chief of Victoria. When on the second highest point of this
mount, I saw a native smoke rise up in the creek below, a short distance
from where I had tied my horse. This naturally made me very anxious for
his safety, and when I descended I was rejoiced to find him safe. The
natives have been in the creek and on the mount: their tracks, which are
quite fresh, lead me to conclude that they have been running. The descent
was difficult, but I discovered a shorter route, and it has taken me two
hours to come down. Arrived at the camp at 4.30, and found all right. I
intended to have built a large cone of stones on the summit; but, when I
arrived there, I was too much exhausted to do so. I have, however,
erected a small one, placing a little paper below one of the stones, to
show that a white man has been there. I have also marked a tree "J. M.D.
S." on the creek where we are now camped. Mount Denison bears from here
249 degrees.

Sunday, 29th April, Gum Creek under Mount Denison. Latitude, 21 degrees
48 minutes. Variation, 3 degrees 20 minutes east. Mount Denison and the
surrounding hills are composed of a hard reddish-brown sandstone. About
one hundred yards from the summit is a course of conglomerate, composed
of stones from half an inch to four inches in diameter, having the
appearance of being rounded at a former period by water. From the foot to
the top of this course is about ten feet, and the breadth on the top is
about twelve feet. There is red sandstone on the summit, with three or
four pines growing. The mount and adjoining hill are covered with
spinifex, but the plain is grassed. The wind has now changed to the west,
and it is much hotter.

Monday, 30th April, Under Mount Denison. The wind changed again to the
south-east during the night, and is much colder. Started on a course, 315
degrees, across the plain towards Mount Barkly. The highest point of the
mount is eighteen miles distant from our camp on the creek. We had to
round the west side of it, finding no water until we came upon a little
in the gorge coming from the highest point. It was dark before we
arrived, so that we could not take the horses up to-night. Wind
south-east, blowing a hurricane, and very cold.

Tuesday, 1st May, North-west Side of Mount Barkly. On examining the
water, I find it is only a drainage from the rocks, and there is not more
than two gallons for each horse. I ascended the hill, but could see
nothing more than I had seen from Mount Denison. The base is composed of
a hard red sandstone, the top of quartz rock. I do not like the
appearance of the country before us. Started on a course of 335 degrees,
and at six miles and a half came upon a large gum creek divided into
numerous channels: searched it carefully, without finding any surface
water; but I discovered a native well about four feet deep, in the east
channel, close to a small hill of rocks. Cleared it out, and watered the
horses with a quart pot, which took us long after dark--each horse
drinking about ten gallons, and some of them more. Natives have been here
lately, and from the tracks they seem to be numerous. We also observed
the rose-coloured cockatoo. I have named this creek The Fisher, after Sir
James Hurtle Fisher; it runs a little east of north.

Wednesday, 2nd May, The Fisher. We did not start until 11 o'clock in
consequence of it taking a long time to water the horses. We steered for
some hills that I had seen from the top of the last two mounts. At
thirteen miles arrived at the hills, but found them low, and no
appearance of water. Changed my course west 35 degrees north to some
higher hills. At 6.30 camped in the scrub without water. The country from
Mount Denison to this is a light-red sandy soil, covered with spinifex,
with very little grass, and is nearly a dead level. In some places it is
scrubby, having a number of gum-trees, and the new tree of Captain Sturt
growing all over it. From a distance it has the appearance of a good
country, and is very deceiving; you constantly think you are coming upon
a gum creek. Wind south-east; very cold at night and morning.

Thursday, 3rd May, Spinifex and Gum Plains. Started on the same course,
west 35 degrees north, and at four miles reached the top of the hills,
which are low and composed of dark-red sandstone and quartz. The bearings
to Mount Denison, 146 degrees; Mount Barkly, 142 degrees; to another hill
west-north-west, 302 degrees, distant about ten miles, which I have named
Mount Turnbull, after the late Gavin Turnbull, Esquire, Surgeon in the
Indian Army. The morning is very hazy, and I cannot see distinctly;
besides, my eyes are again very bad. The appearance of the country all
round is that of having gum creeks everywhere. To the north there are
some more low hills. A short distance off, on a bearing of 328 degrees,
there appears to be a gum creek with something white as if it were water,
so I shall change my course. At 3.50 camped, some of my horses being
nearly done up from want of water, and having nothing to eat but
spinifex. I have now come eighteen miles, and the plain has the same
appearance now as when I first started--spinifex and gum-trees, with a
little scrub occasionally. We are expecting every moment to come upon a
gum creek, but hope is disappointed. I have not so much as seen a
water-course since I left the Fisher, and how far this country may
continue it is impossible to tell. I intended to have turned back sooner,
but I was expecting every moment to meet with a creek. It is very
alluring, and apt to lead the traveller into serious mistakes. I wish I
had turned back earlier, for I am almost afraid that I have allowed
myself to come too far. I am doubtful if all my horses will be able to
get back to water. In rainy weather this country will not retain the
water on the surface, and we have not so much as seen a clay-pan of the
smallest dimensions. The gum-trees on this plain have a smooth white
bark, and the leaves are some light-green and some dark. Most of the
trees seem very healthy; there are very few dead ones about. To-morrow
morning I must unwillingly retreat to water for my horses. There is no
chance of getting to the north-west in this direction, unless this plain
soon terminates. From what I could see there is little hope of its doing
so for a long distance.

Friday, 4th May, Gum and Spinifex Plains. At times this country is
visited by blacks, but it must be seldom, as since we left the Fisher we
have only seen the track of one, who seems to have come from the east,
and to have returned in that direction. The spinifex in many places has
been burnt, and the track of the native was peculiar--not broad and flat,
as they generally are, but long and narrow, with a deep hollow in the
foot, and the large toe projecting a good deal; the other in some
respects more like the print of a white man than of a native. Had I
crossed it the day before, I would have followed it. My horses are now
suffering too much from the want of water to allow me to do so. If I did,
and were not to find water to-night, I should lose the whole of the
horses and our own lives into the bargain. I must now retreat to Mount
Denison, which I do with great reluctance; it is losing so much time, and
my provisions are limited. Started back at 7.10 a.m., and at thirty miles
came upon a native well, with a little grass round it; the bottom was
moist. Unsaddled, and turned the horses out. Commenced clearing out the
well the best way we could, with a quart pot and a small tin dish, having
unfortunately lost our shovel in crossing the McDonnell ranges. We had
great difficulty in keeping the horses out while we cleared it. To our
great disappointment we found the water coming in very slowly. We can
only manage, in an hour and a half, to get about six gallons, which must
be the allowance for each horse, and it will take us till to-morrow
morning to water them all. One of us is required to be constantly with
them to keep them back, and that he can hardly do; some of them will get
away from him do all he can. Kekwick's horse was nearly done up before we
reached this place; also one of the others. Those nearest to the
cart-breed give in first.

Saturday, 5th May, Native Well. Got all the horses watered by 11 o'clock
a.m., and could only get about five gallons for each horse, although we
were employed the whole of the night, and got no sleep. Started for the
Fisher, and arrived at the native well at sundown. Were obliged to tie
the horses up, to keep them from getting into it. We could scarcely get
some of them as far as this, as they are quite done up. What was still
worse, we found the native well had fallen in since we left. It cannot be
helped: we must take things as they come. Commenced immediately to cut a
number of stakes, rushes, and grass, to keep the sand back, and by 3
o'clock in the morning we got them all watered, and very thankful we were
to do so. It has been, and is still, bitter cold throughout the night and
morning, the wind still coming from the south-east. We had a pot of tea,
although we could ill afford it, and lay down and got a little sleep,
completely tired and worn out with hard work and want of rest.

Sunday, 6th May, The Fisher. Got up at daybreak and went to the well, but
found that the rascals of horses had been there before us, and trodden in
one side of the well. They had as much water last night and morning as
they could drink, and the quantity that some of them drank was enormous.
I had no idea that a horse could hold so much, yet still they want more.
I shall remain here two days, put down more stakes, clear out the well,
and give them as much as they will drink. During this trying time I have
been very much pleased with the conduct of Kekwick and Ben; they have
exerted themselves to the utmost, and everything has been done with the
greatest alacrity and cheerfulness. Although they have only had two
hours' sleep during the last two nights, there has not been a single word
of dissatisfaction from either of them, which is highly gratifying to me.
It is, indeed, a great pleasure to have men that will do their work
without grumbling. Watered the horses as they came in. They do not now
drink a fourth part of what they did at first.

Monday, 7th May, The Fisher. Had a good night's rest, and felt recovered
from the past fatigue. Started for the creek on the east side of Mount
Denison, to the water at which we camped before, keeping to the north
side of Mount Barkly in search of water, but could find none. Arrived at
the creek after dark. Kekwick's horse is entirely done up; he had to get
off and lead him for two miles. Another of the horses is nearly as bad,
but he managed to get to the creek. We found the water greatly reduced,
but still enough for us.

Tuesday, 8th May, Creek East of Mount Denison. I must remain here two
days to allow the horses to recover. I am afraid if we have such another
journey, I shall have to leave some of them behind. I do not know what is
the cause of their giving in so soon; I have had horses that have
suffered three times as much privation, and yet have held out. The light
ones are all right; it is the heavy ones, of the cart-horse breed, that
feel it most. I had been keeping them up on purpose for an occasion like
this, and they all looked in first-rate condition, but the work of the
past week has made a great alteration in some of them. I suppose the
young grass is not yet strong enough for them. It is very vexing to be
thus disappointed and delayed. To think that they should fail me at the
very moment when I expected them to do their best, and after all the
trouble and loss of time I have incurred in giving them short journeys!
However, I cannot improve it by complaining, and must rest contented and
hope for the best. Wind south-east. Storm brewing.

Wednesday, 9th May, Creek East of Mount Denison. Resting horses and
putting our things in order. Wind blowing very strong from the
south-east; it has continued nearly in the same quarter since March.

Thursday, 10th May, Creek East of Mount Denison. I find that I must give
the horses another day; they have not yet recovered, and I expect we
shall have some more hard work for them. We have not quite finished

Friday, 11th May, Creek East of Mount Denison. Ben was taken very ill
during the night, and is still so bad that I am obliged to remain here
another day. Afternoon: Ben feels much better, so I shall start

Saturday, 12th May, Creek East of Mount Denison. Ben is better, and the
horses look as if they can stand a little more hardship. Started at 8.20
on a bearing of 28 degrees east of north, to see if I can get on in that
direction. For fourteen miles our course was through mulga scrub and
spinifex, in some places very thick. At twenty-seven miles camped without
water. The country that we have passed over the last two days is
apparently destitute of water, even in rainy weather. I do not think the
ground would retain it a single day. Very little feed for the horses.

Sunday, 13th May, Scrub and Gum Flat. I do not like the appearance of the
country. As I can see no hope of obtaining water on this course, I shall
change to the east, in order to cut the large gum creek that I crossed on
the 26th ultimo, and, if I find water in it, to follow it out to wherever
it goes. At three miles cut a small gum creek: searched for water both up
and down, but could find none, nor any appearance of it. Still keeping my
east course, we then passed through a very thick mulga scrub, and at ten
miles struck a low range of hills, composed of quartz, with a conical
peak, which I ascended. The prospect from this is very extensive, but
disheartening, apparently the same sort of scrubby country that I have
endeavoured to break through to the north-west. The view to the north is
dismal; there are a few isolated hills, seemingly the termination of John
range, and of the same formation as this that I am now on. To
east-south-east there appears to be a creek, to which I shall now go. At
three miles I reached what I had supposed to be a creek, but it is a
small narrow gum flat which receives the drainage from this low range. We
found a hole where there had been water, but it was all gone. I have
named the peak Mount Rennie, after Major Rennie of the Indian army. In
this small flat we shot a new macaw, which I shall carry with me, and
preserve the skin, if we get to water to-night. The front part of the
neck and underneath the wings is of a beautiful crimson hue, the back is
of a light lead colour, the tail square, the beak smaller than a
cockatoo's, and the crest the same as a macaw's. After leaving this flat,
we passed through some scrub, and came upon another of the same
description. Here I narrowly escaped being killed. My attention being
engaged looking for water, my horse took fright at a wallaby, and rushed
into some scrub, which pulled me from the saddle, my foot and the staff
that I carry for placing my compass on catching in the stirrup-iron.
Finding that he was dragging me, he commenced kicking at a fearful rate;
he struck me on the shoulder joint, knocked my hat off, and grazed my
forehead. I soon got clear, but found the kick on my shoulder very
painful. Mounted again, and at seven miles we came upon some more low
hills with another prominent peak of a dark-red sandstone. This I have
named Mount Peake, after E.J. Peake, Esquire, of Adelaide. I now find
that the gum creek which I crossed between Central Mount Stuart and Mount
Denison runs out and forms the gum plains we have just passed. No hope of
water. I must now bear in for the centre to get it. Passed through a very
thick, nasty mulga scrub for five miles, and camped again without water
under some low stony hills. I feel the effects of my accident very much.

Monday, 14th May, Stony Hills, Mulga Scrub. Feel very stiff and ill.
Started at daylight, and passed through three belts of thick mulga scrub,
between which there were low stony hills. At three miles passed a small
gum creek, emptying itself into the scrub. At seventeen miles passed
another, doing the same; at twenty miles another, and at twenty-four
miles a third, under the hills north-west of Central Mount Stuart. This
has a very remarkable hill at the north-west, in the shape of a large
bottle with a long neck. We have had the greatest difficulty in getting
all our horses to the water; three of them are very bad; two have been
down a dozen times during the journey to-day. On approaching the range,
we passed through some large patches of kangaroo grass, growing very
thickly, and reaching to my shoulder when in the saddle.

Tuesday, 15th May, Centre. The horses look very bad to-day; I shall
therefore give them three or four days' rest. It is very vexing, but it
cannot be helped. The water here will last about ten days. I shall cause
another search for more to be made; I myself am too unwell to assist.
Yesterday I rode in the greatest pain from the effects of my fall, and it
was with great difficulty that I was able to sit in the saddle until we
reached here. Scurvy also has taken a very serious hold of me; my hands
are a complete mass of sores that will not heal, but, when I remain for
two or three days in some place where I can get them well washed, they
are much better; if not, they are worse than ever, and I am rendered
nearly helpless. My mouth and gums are now so bad that I am obliged to
eat flour and water boiled. The pains in my limbs and muscles are almost
insufferable. Kekwick is also suffering from bad hands, but, as yet, has
no other symptoms. I really hope and trust that it will not be the cause
of my having to turn back. I suffered dreadfully during the past night.
This afternoon the wind has changed to the west--the first time since
March; a few clouds are coming up in that direction.

Wednesday, 16th May, Centre. I despatched Kekwick at daybreak in search
of permanent water, with orders to devote the whole of two days to that
purpose. I must now do everything that is in my power to break this
barrier that prevents me from getting to the north. If I could only get
one hundred and twenty miles from this, I think there would be a chance
of reaching the coast. I wish the horses could endure the want of water a
day or two longer, but I fear they cannot; this last journey has tried
them to their utmost. Two of them look very wretched to-day, and will
with difficulty get over it; one I scarcely think will do so. I should
not have been afraid to have risked two more days with five of them. If
they had been all like these five, I should have tried to the north-west
a degree and back again without water. I have been suffering dreadfully
during the past three weeks from pains in the muscles, caused by the
scurvy, but the last two nights they have been most excruciating. Violent
pains darted at intervals through my whole body. My powers of endurance
were so severely tested, that, last night, I almost wished that death
would come and relieve me from my fearful torture. I am so very weak that
I must with patience abide my time, and trust in the Almighty. This
morning I feel a little easier; the medicines I brought with me are all
bad, and have no effect. The wind still from the north-west, with a few
light clouds. Towards sundown the wind has changed to the south-west;
heavy clouds coming from the north-west.

Thursday, 17th May, Centre. Wind from the south; the heavy clouds
continued until sunrise, and then cleared off. I fully expected some
rain, but was disappointed. I have again had another dreadful night of
suffering; I had, however, about two hours' sleep, which, as it was the
only sleep I have had for the last three nights, was a great boon. This
morning I observe that the muscles of my limbs are changing from
yellow-green to black; my mouth is getting worse, and it is with
difficulty that I can swallow anything. I am determined not to give in; I
shall move about as long as I am able. I only wish the horses had been
all right, and then I should not have stayed here so long. Kekwick
returned at 3 o'clock, and reported having found water in the Hanson,
about fifteen miles from Central Mount Stuart, but only a small supply.
Beyond that the creek divides into two, one running north and the other
east, but he could see no more water further down. He also saw two
natives, armed with long spears, about three hundred yards off; they did
not observe him, and he thought it most prudent not to show himself, but
to remain behind a thick bush until they were gone. In this instance I
regret his caution, for I am anxious to see or hear what is the
appearance of the Central natives. Wind variable, with heavy clouds from

Friday, 18th May, Centre. I have again had a very bad night, and feel
unable to move to-day. Wind the same.

Saturday, 19th May, Centre. I had a few hours' sleep last night, which
has been of great benefit to me. I shall attempt to move down to the
water in the Hanson. Arrived there about 1.30 completely done up from the
motion of the horse. The water is a few inches below the surface in the
sand. East side of Mount Stuart bearing 250 degrees, about ten miles
distant. I do not think the water is permanent.

Sunday, 20th May, The Hanson. Another dreadful night for me. Wind and
clouds still coming from the north-west, but no rain.

Monday, 21st May, The Hanson. Unable to move; very ill indeed. When shall
I get relief from this dreadful state?

Tuesday, 22nd May, The Hanson. I got a little sleep last night, and feel
a great deal easier this morning, and shall try my horse back again. I
shall now steer north-east to a range of hills that I saw from the top of
Central Mount Stuart, and hope from these to obtain an entrance to the
north-west or north-east. I also hope to cut the creek that carries off
the surplus water from all the creeks which I have passed since March. It
must go somewhere, for it is difficult to believe that those numerous
bodies of water can be consumed by evaporation. Started on a bearing of
48 degrees, crossed the Hanson, running a little on our right; at six
miles crossed it again, running more to the north for two miles further.
We crossed four more of its courses, all running in the same direction.
The most easterly one is spread over a large salt-creek valley, and forms
a lagoon at the foot of some sand ridges, the highest of which is ten
miles and a half from our last camp. On the east side of it there is a
large lagoon, five miles long by one mile and a half broad, in which
water has lately been, but it is now dry. We then proceeded through a
little scrub, with splendid grass, and at twelve miles cut a small gum
creek, coming from the range. We saw a number of birds about, and there
were tracks of natives, quite fresh, in the creek. Sent Kekwick down it
to see if there were water, while I went up and examined it. This is the
large gum plain that we met with the day we made the Centre; it is
completely covered with grass. Kekwick ran the creek out. At about two
miles he observed a little water in the creek, where the natives had been
digging. He also came upon two of them, and two little children. They did
not observe him until he was within fifty yards, when they stood for a
few minutes paralysed with astonishment; then, snatching up the children,
ran off as quickly as their legs could carry them. They did not utter a
sound, although he called to them. He remarked that they had no hair on
their heads, or it was as short as if it had been burned off close. I
wish I had seen them; I should have overtaken them and seen if it were a
fact that the hair was burnt. It is reported in Adelaide that there are
natives in the interior without hair on their bodies. At fourteen miles
we again struck the creek, and found plenty of water in it. It winds all
over the plain in every direction. Camped for the night very much done
up. I could hardly sit in my saddle for this short distance. Wind

Wednesday, 23rd May, Gum Creek, East Range, the Stirling. The wind has
changed again to the south-east. I have named this creek the Stirling,
after the Honourable Edward Stirling, M.L.C. Followed it into the range
on the same course towards a bluff, where I think I shall find an easy
crossing. At one mile from the camp the hills commenced on the south-east
side of the creek, but on the north-west side they commenced three miles
further back. There was abundance of water in the creek for thirteen
miles; at ten miles there was another large branch with water coming from
the south-east. At fourteen miles ascended the bluff and obtained the
following bearings: South side of the creek, to a high part of the range
about two miles off (which I have named Mount Gwynne, after his Honour,
Justice Gwynne), 186 degrees. North side of the creek, to another hill
about two miles and a half off (which I have named Mount Mann, in memory
of the late Commissioner of Insolvency), 249 degrees. Central Mount
Stuart bears 131 degrees to the highest point. At the north-west
termination of the next range, to which I shall now go, there are two
very large hills, the north one, which is the highest, I have named Mount
Strzelecki, after Count Strzelecki, bearing 358 degrees. I have named the
high peak on the same range Mount Morphett, after the Honourable John
Morphett, M.L.C. The view from this bluff is extensive, except to the
west-north-west, which is hidden by this range just alluded to, which I
have named Forster Range, after the Honourable Anthony Forster, M.L.C.
From the south-west it has the appearance of a long continuous range,
but, on entering it, it is much broken into irregular and rugged hills:
on this side, the north-east, it consists of table-hills, with a number
of rugged isolated ones on the north side. To the north-west there is
another scrubby and gum-tree plain; to the north-north-west are some
isolated low ranges; to the north are grassy plains and low ranges; to
the east are several spurs from this range, which is composed of a very
hard dark-red stone, mixed with small round quartz and ironstone, and in
some places a hard flinty quartz. The range and hills are covered with
spinifex, but the valleys are beautifully grassed. We descended, and at
four miles struck a creek coming from the range, and running between two
low ranges towards the north-east. At seven miles changed my course to
north-east to camp in the creek, and endeavour to get water for the
horses before encountering the scrubby plains to-morrow morning. At five
miles came upon a low range, but no creek; it must have gone further to
the eastward. It being now quite dark, we camped under the ranges. Since
I changed my course I have come through a patch of mulga and other scrubs
with plenty of grass, but no watercourses. Wind south-east; heavy clouds
from the north-west; lightning in the south and west.

Thursday, 24th May, Range of Low Hills. This morning I feel very ill from
climbing the bluff yesterday; I had no sleep during the night, the pains
being so very violent. About 9 o'clock we had a heavy shower of rain, and
a little more during the night. Very late before the horses were found,
and the atmosphere very thick, with the prospect of rain for the rest of
the day. This and my being so ill have decided me to remain here until
to-morrow, there being sufficient rain water for the horses. A few more
light showers during the afternoon and evening. Wind still the same;
heavy clouds from the north-west.

Friday, 25th May, Range of Low Hills. I feel better this morning. The
clouds have all gone during the night, and it is now quite clear. Started
for Mount Strzelecki, passing through some very thick mulga scrub, with a
few gum-trees and plenty of grass. At twenty-one miles came upon a small
gum creek, where we gave the horses water, filled our own canteens, and
proceeded to the foot of the mount and camped. At a mile from its base
the spinifex begins again. Wind south-east. Very cold.

Saturday, 26th May, Mount Strzelecki. Ascended the mount, and built a
cone of stones. To the east are hills connected with this range, which I
have named Crawford Range, after ---- Crawford, Esquire, of Adelaide. To
the east-north-east is a large wooded undulating plain, with another
range in the extreme distance. To the north-east the distant range
continues with the same plain between. At a bearing of 55 degrees is a
large lagoon, in which there appears to be a little water. To the
north-north-east the plain appears to be rather more scrubby, and with a
few sand hills. To the north the point of the distant range is lost sight
of by some high scrubby land. To the west there are a few low hills, from
fifteen to twenty-five miles distant. This range is composed of a hard
flinty quartz, partly of a blue colour, with a little ironstone. We can
find no permanent water in this range, but, from the two or three native
tracks, quite fresh, which we have passed, I think there must be some
about. Descended, and proceeded round the range to the lagoon, the range
being too rough to cross. There is not enough water to be a drink for the
horses. Camped. Very heavy clouds from the north-west. The mount is about
four miles distant. At sundown there was a beautiful rain for an hour. It
is very strange, the clouds come from the north-west, and the wind from
the south-east. The rain seems to be coming against the wind.

Sunday, 27th May, Lagoon North-east of Mount Strzelecki. We had a few
heavy showers during the night, but it seems as if the rain would now
clear off. I hope not, for there is only about two inches of water in the
lagoon. I am again suffering much pain from the exertion it cost me to
climb Mount Strzelecki, and from assisting in building the cone of
stones; but if I did not put my hands to almost everything that is
required, I should never get on. My party is too small. It is killing

Monday, 28th May, Lagoon North-east of Mount Strzelecki. We could not get
a start till 9.15, the horses having strayed to a distant bank for
shelter from the wind, which was piercingly cold. I had, in the first
instance, to go three miles north-north-west, in order to clear the low
stony range that runs on to the east side of the lagoon. I then changed
to 22 degrees to the far-distant range. For the first three miles our
course was through a very thick mulga scrub, with plenty of grass, and
occasionally a little spinifex; it then changed to a slightly undulating
country of a reddish soil, with gum and cork-trees, and numerous low
sandy plains, much resembling the gum and spinifex plains to the west,
where I was twice beaten back. It certainly is a desert country. Camped
without water on a little patch of grass. Distance to-day, twenty-eight
miles. Wind south-east. Very cold all day.

Tuesday, 29th May, Scrub, Spinifex and Gum-Trees. Started at 8 on the
same course for the range, which is still distant, through the same
description of country. At seven miles we came upon a plain of long
grass, which seems to have been flooded. It is about two miles broad.
Between this and the first hill of the range we passed four more of the
same description. Distance to the first hill, fourteen miles. In another
mile we struck a small creek; searched for water, but could find none,
although birds were numerous; thence through another mulga scrub, and
after crossing a number of rough stony hills, we arrived at the top of
the range, which I have named Davenport Range, after the Honourable
Samuel Davenport, M.L.C. It is composed of hard red sandstone, with
courses of quartz. I find this is not the range for which I am bound.
Although this one is high, the other is still higher, and, I should
think, is still forty or fifty miles distant. The day is thick, and I
cannot see distinctly. Between these ranges is a large plain, more open
than those we have come over. To the north the range appears to
terminate; to the west of north, in the far distance, just visible, are
two high hills, the northernmost of which is conical. To the east and
south-east is the plain and range; to the west, continuation of the same
plain that we have come over in the last two days' journey. Although we
had some heavy showers at the lagoon, we have not passed a single
water-course, except the one we crossed a few miles before we made this
range, nor did we see a drop of surface water: it seems to be all
absorbed the moment that it falls. Descended the north-north-east side of
the range, and at a mile and a half found some rain water in a creek,
coming from the range. Camped. Wind south-east. Distance, twenty miles.

Wednesday, 30th May, The Davenport Range. I find this water will not last
more than three days. I have determined to remain here to-day, and have
sent Kekwick in search of more water. As I am now a little better, I must
get my plan brought up. It has got in arrear, in consequence of my hands
being so bad with the scurvy. My limbs are much easier, yet the riding is
still very painful; my mouth also is much better, so that I am led to
hope that the disease will soon leave me. Native tracks about here, and
when I was on the top of the range I saw smoke in the scrub a few miles
to the north-west. Sundown: I am quite surprised that Kekwick has not
returned, as my instructions to him were not to go above five or six
miles, and then to return whether he found water or not. I am very much
afraid that something has happened to him.

Thursday, 31st May, The Davenport Range. Kekwick has not returned. I
begin to feel very uneasy about him. I must be off and follow up his
tracks. Sent Ben for the horses. He was a long time in finding them, as
is generally the case when one wants a thing in a hurry. 9.30: Kekwick
has arrived before the horses; he overshot his mark last night, and got
beyond the camp. I am very glad he is all safe. He informs me that he
came upon plenty of water a few miles from here, which compensates for
the anxiety he caused me during the night. His reason for not returning
as I had directed was that he crossed a gum creek which had so promising
an appearance, that he was induced to follow it to the plains, where he
found an abundance of water. While he was riding he was taken very ill,
and was unable to come on for some time, which made it so late that he
could not see to reach the camp. He is unable to proceed to-day, which is
vexing, for I wish to get on as quickly as possible.

Friday, 1st June, The Davenport Range. The horses having strayed, we did
not get a start till late. Our course was 22 degrees, and at two miles we
struck a small gum creek coming from the range and running
west-north-west. At three miles and a half we crossed a larger one coming
from, and running in, the same direction. Then commenced again the same
sort of country that we passed through the other day. At eight miles
struck a splendid large gum creek or river, having long and deep reaches
of water with fish four or five inches in length; it is running through
the plain as far as I can see, which is only a short distance, the ground
being low and level. Its course at this place is to the west-north-west;
it is very broad, and in some places the banks are perpendicular, and are
well grassed and covered with fine gum-trees, mulga and other bushes.
From bank to bank its width is about ten chains. This is the finest creek
for water that we have passed since leaving Chambers Creek. The day being
far advanced, I shall camp here, and get to the range to-morrow. I am
very much inclined to follow this creek and see where it empties itself;
but I expect to find a large one close to the range, or on the other
side. I wish also to get on the top to see what the country on ahead is
like. The fact of fish being in this creek leads me to think that it does
not empty itself into the gum plains, like others lately passed, but that
it must flow either into the sea on the north-west coast, or into a lake.
I have named it the Bonney Creek, after Charles Bonney, Esquire, late
Commissioner of Crown Lands for South Australia.

Saturday, 2nd June, The Bonney Creek. Started at 8.20 on the same course,
22 degrees, for the range, through a country of alternate spinifex and
grass with a little mulga scrub. At seven miles we struck another large
gum creek with every appearance of water, but I had no time to look for
it, being anxious to make the range to-night, and endeavour to find water
either on this side or on the other. The creek is large, and resembles
the last. I have named it the McLaren, after John McLaren, Esquire, late
Deputy Surveyor-General of South Australia. At seventeen miles, after
passing through a well-grassed country with a little scrub, we reached
the top of the first range, which is composed of a hard white
granite-looking rock, with courses of quartz running through it. I have
three or four spurs to cross yet before I make the main range. So far as
I can see, McLaren Creek is running much in the same direction as the
Bonney. Started from the top of the range and had a very difficult job in
crossing the spurs. About sundown arrived all safe on a gum flat, between
the ranges, and attempted to get upon what appears to be the highest
range, but getting up the horses deterred us. We then sought for water
among the numerous gum creeks which cover the plain, and at dark found
some, and camped. There is a good supply of water, but I do not think it
is permanent; it will last, however, for a month or six weeks. I have
named these ranges the Murchison, after Sir Roderick Murchison, President
of the Royal Geographical Society, London. Wind varying.

Sunday, 3rd June, Murchison Ranges. I feel very unwell this morning, from
the rough ride yesterday. It was my intention to have walked to the top
of the range to-day, but I am not able to do so. The small plain between
the ranges is a bed of soft white sandstone, through which the different
creeks have cut deep courses; the stones on the surface (igneous
principally), are composed of iron, quartz, dark black and blue stone,
also a bright red one, all run together and twisted into every sort of
nick, as also with the limestone, and many other sorts which I do not
know. This plain is covered with a most hard spinifex, very difficult to
get the horses to face. In another creek, about one mile south-west from
the camp, is a large water hole which will last six months; it is ten
yards long by twenty yards wide.

Monday, 4th June, Murchison Ranges. Started on a course of 330 degrees to
round this spur of the ranges, and at four miles and a half changed to 15
degrees to the high point of the range, and at three miles arrived on the
top. I have named it Mount Figg. The view from this is extensive. The
course of this range from the south to this point is 25 degrees; it then
makes a turn to the north-north-west, in which direction the country
appears more open, with some patches of thick scrub, and high ranges in
the distance. From north-west to west it appears to be gum plain, with
open patches of grass, and a number of creeks running into it from the
range. I shall change my course to a high peak on the north-west point of
the range, which bears from this 340 degrees 30 minutes. This range is
volcanic here, and is of the same formation as I have already given.
Started from the top of the mount at 12 o'clock. Went for eight miles
along the side of the range, and met with a small gum creek running on
our course; followed it up for three miles without finding water; it then
took a more westerly course, so I left it to pursue my route. After
leaving the mount, the range is composed of red sandstone with a little
quartz. We have occasionally met with a little limestone gravel. Camped
at 6 o'clock, without water.

Tuesday, 5th June, Gum-Tree Plain. Started on the same course at 7
o'clock for the high peak, through the same sort of country as yesterday.
No watercourse. At fifteen miles ascended the peak, which I have named
Mount Samuel, after my brother. The top is a mass of nearly pure
ironstone. It attracted the compass 160 degrees. From north to west are
broken ranges and isolated hills of a volcanic character, in all sorts of
shapes. The isolated hills seem to be the termination of these ranges,
which run nearly north and south. I have named them the McDouall Ranges,
after Colonel McDouall, of the 2nd Life Guards, Logan, Wigtownshire. I
then changed my course to the north-north-east in search of water, there
being no appearance of any to the north-north-west. After travelling five
miles over small grassy, scrubby plains, between isolated hills and
gum-trees, I could not find a water-course, so I changed to the east, to
try if I could see anything from a high hill, which I ascended, and
discovered a gum creek coming from the range on the east side. Followed
it down, and, one mile and a half from the top, found a splendid hole of
water in the rock, very deep, and permanent. The creek is very rocky, and
its course here is north-east into the plain. Wind south-east. Clouds
from the north-west.

Wednesday, 6th June, Gum Creek, North-east Side of the McDouall Ranges.
There being nothing but spinifex on the ranges and creeks, the horses had
been travelling nearly all night in search of food, and had gone a long
way before they were overtaken. This morning saddled and got a start by
11 o'clock on a course of 340 degrees, crossing numerous creeks and stout
spinifex, through which we had great difficulty in driving the horses. At
five miles struck a gum creek in which we found water. The banks have
excellent feed upon them, and in abundance, so, for the sake of the
horses, I have determined to remain here to-day. This creek, which I have
named Tennant Creek, after John Tennant, Esquire, of Port Lincoln, runs
east. In searching for the horses this morning Ben found three or four
more large water holes in the adjoining creek, a little south-east from
this. Before we reached this, we crossed some marks very much resembling
old horse-tracks.

Thursday, 7th June, Tennant Creek, McDouall Ranges. Started at 7.20.
Course, 340 degrees. At three miles passed through an immense number of
huge granite rocks piled together and scattered about in every direction,
with a few small water-courses running amongst them to the eastward. We
then encountered a rather thick scrub, and occasionally crossed a few low
quartz rises coming from the McDouall ranges. At fourteen miles ascended
the highest of them, which I have named Mount Woodcock, after the
Venerable the Archdeacon of Adelaide. To the north-west and north is
another range, about ten miles distant, which seems to continue a long
way. I will change my course to 315 degrees, which will take me to the
highest point. At two miles on this course came upon a gum creek running
to the north-east, which I named Bishop Creek; followed it for one mile
and a half, and found water, which will last a month or six weeks, and an
immense number of birds. This is a camping-place of the natives, who seem
to have been here very lately. We watered the horses and proceeded
towards the range. At about two miles passed a low rugged ironstone
range, peculiar in having a large square mass of ironstone standing by
itself about the centre. I have named it Mount Sinclair, after James
Sinclair, of Port Lincoln. Passed through a thick scrub, among which we
saw a very handsome bush that was new to us, having a blue-green leaf ten
inches long by six inches broad. We looked for some seed, but could not
find any. At five miles crossed a grassy gum plain, where a creek empties
itself. The same scrub continues to the range, which we reached at twelve
miles from the water. It is not very high, but rough and steep, and we
had great difficulty in getting to the top, but after many twistings and
turnings and scramblings, we arrived there all right, and found it to be
table land. At fourteen miles camped without water. The range is composed
of ironstone, granite, quartz and red sandstone, running north of west
and south of east. I have named it Short Range, after the Right Reverend
the Lord Bishop of Adelaide.

Friday, 8th June, Short Range. Started at 8 o'clock on the same course,
315 degrees, to some very distant rising grounds. Short range seems to
run nearly parallel to our course, as also does another distant range to
the north, which I have named Sturt Range, after Captain Sturt. The table
land continued about two miles, and then there was a gradual descent to
the plains, and we entered a thick scrub with spinifex and gums. At
eighteen miles came upon a beautiful plain of grass, having large
gum-trees, and a new description of tree, the foliage of which is a
dark-green and rather round, and the bark rough and of a dark colour.
Here also was the cork-tree, and numerous other shrubs. This grassy plain
continued for thirty-one miles, until we camped, but the last part is not
so good. When I struck this plain, I was in great hopes of finding a
large creek of water, but have been disappointed; we have not crossed a
single water-course in thirty-one miles. Camped at sundown. No water.
Wind south-east.

Saturday, 9th June, Grassy Plain. There is some rising ground a few miles
further on, to which I shall go in search of a creek; I might be able to
see something from it. If I do not find water I shall have to retreat to
Bishop Creek, as the horses have now been two nights without water.
Started at 7 o'clock, same course, 315 degrees, through scrub and a light
sandy soil. At four miles got to the rise, which is a scrubby sand-hill.
From this I can see nothing, the scrub being so thick; it is of a nasty,
tough, wiry description, and has torn our hands and saddle-bags to
pieces. I got up a tree to look over the top of this scrub, which is
about twelve feet high, and I could see our course for a long distance;
it appears to be the same terrible scrub, with no sign of any creeks. It
is very vexing to get thus far, and have to turn back, when perhaps
another day's journey would bring me to a better country. I shall now try
a south course, and cut the grassy plains to the westward, in the hope of
finding water; if so, I shall be able to make two days' journey to the
north-west. Started on a south course for fourteen miles, through scrub
and small grassy plains alternately, but we could find neither creek nor
water. I now regret that I attempted the south course, which makes the
distance from the water so much greater. Wind still south-east; heavy
clouds coming from the north-west, I trust it will rain before morning.

Sunday, 10th June, Grassy Plains. Started at sunrise, and at two miles
again got into the scrub. Three of the horses we can scarcely get along;
they are very much done up. At 11 o'clock, one horse gave in altogether.
We cannot get him up; we have tried everything in our power to do
something for him. The other horses have been carrying his load, and he
has had nothing to carry for this last hour and a half; all our efforts
are in vain, and I am obliged, although with great reluctance, to leave
him to his fate. Had this occurred nearer the water, I should have put an
end to his existence and taken part of him to eat, for we are now very
short of provisions, and the other horses have quite enough to carry
without sharing his load; I wish I had left him sooner. At 12 o'clock, I
find I shall lose some more of them, if they do not get water to-night,
and it will be to-morrow before I can reach Bishop Creek. I shall now go
to Short range and try to find some. The little bay mare Polly has become
nearly mad, running about among the other horses, and kicking them as she
passes; even the men do not escape from her heels. At five miles made the
range. There are no large creeks coming from this side--nothing but small
ones which empty themselves into the plain; sand up to the foot of the
hills. Before we reach the range another of the horses is done up; he has
only been carrying about 30 pounds in consequence of his back having been
bad for the last three weeks. We lightened all the weak horses two days
since. We shall now try if he will go without anything on his back. We
are now amongst the granite ridges, and hope we shall find water on this
side. The horse has given in before we can get to the other side. We must
leave him for the sake of the others. Too much time has already been lost
in endeavouring to get them on. Reached the other side and searched the
different creeks, but cannot find any water. Crossed a spur of the range
running south, and can see a nice-looking creek with gum-trees. Our hopes
and spirits are again revived; the sight of it has even invigorated the
horses, and they are hurrying on towards it. Traversed it down, but, to
our great disappointment, find that it loses itself in a grassy plain. It
is now dark, so I must remain here for the night. The sky is quite
overcast, and I trust that Providence will send us rain before morning.
An accident has happened to the water we were carrying; it was all lost
yesterday. If it clears during the night, so that I can see the stars to
guide me, I shall move on.

Monday, 11th June, Short Range. During the night there were a few drops
of rain, which again raised our hopes, and about 4 o'clock it looked as
if we were to have a deluge, but, alas! it only rained for about two
minutes, and as much fell as would wet a pocket-handkerchief. Saddled and
started through the range, my poor little mare looking very bad this
morning; I have taken everything off her, so that she may hold out until
we get to water, and I have been obliged to leave as many things at this
camp as I could possibly do without. The mare lies down every few yards,
I am therefore compelled to leave her for the sake of the others. From
the number of birds about here, I think there must be water near; I hope
she may find it, although I am afraid she is too far gone even to try it.
At 1 o'clock, at the foot of Mount Woodcock, the horses' spirits revived
at sight of their old track. I shall now be able to get all the rest of
them safe to water, although there is one still doubtful. My own black
mare shows a few symptoms of madness, but still keeps on, and does her
work well. About an hour before sundown arrived at the water without any
more losses, for which I sincerely thank the Almighty. We have had a
terrible job to keep the horses from drinking too much water, but, as
they have now eaten a few mouthfuls of grass, I have allowed them to
drink as much as they thought proper. The natives have been here since we

Tuesday, 12th June, Bishop Creek. Resting: the horses look very bad; they
remained by the water all night.

Wednesday, 13th June, Bishop Creek. The horses still look very bad this
morning; they have again stayed by the water nearly all night; they had
been one hundred and one hours without a drop, and have accomplished a
journey of one hundred and twelve miles; they will require a week to
recover; one of them is very lame from a kick the little mare gave him in
her madness. Thus ends my last attempt, at present, to make the Victoria
River; three times have I tried it, and have been forced to retreat.
About 11 o'clock I heard the voice of a native; looked round and could
see two in the scrub, about a quarter of a mile distant. I beckoned to
them to approach, but they kept making signs which I could not
understand. I then moved towards them, but the moment they saw me move,
they ran off immediately. About a quarter of an hour afterwards they
again made their appearance on the top of the quartz reef, opposite our
camp, and two others showed themselves in about the same place as the two
first did. Thinking this was the only water, I made signs to the two on
the reef to go to the water; but they still continued talking and making
signs which I could not understand; it seemed as if they wished us to go
away, which I was determined not to do. They then made a number of
furious frantic gestures, shaking their spears, and twirling them round
their heads, etc. etc., I suppose bidding us defiance. I should think the
youngest was about twenty-five years of age. He placed a very long spear
into the instrument they throw them with, and, after a few more gestures,
descended from the reef, and gradually came a little nearer. I made signs
of encouragement for him to come on, at the same time moving towards him.
At last we arrived on the banks of the creek, he on one side, and I on
the other. He had a long spear, a womera, and two instruments like the
boomerang, but more the shape of a scimitar, with a very sharp edge,
having a thick place at the end, roughly carved, for the hand. The
gestures he was making were now signs of hostility, and he came fully
prepared for war. I then broke a branch of green leaves from a bush, and
held it up towards him, inviting him to come across to me. As he did not
seem to fancy that, I crossed to where he was, and got within two yards
of him. He thought I was quite near enough, and would not have me any
nearer, for he kept moving back as I approached. I wished to get close up
to him, but he would not have it; we then stood still, and I tried to
make him understand, by signs, that all we wanted was water for two or
three days. At last he seemed to understand, nodded his head, pointed to
the water, then to our camp, and held up his five fingers. I then
endeavoured to learn from him if there was water to the north or
north-east, but I could make nothing of him. He viewed me very steadily
for a long time, began talking, and seeing that I did not understand him,
he made the sign that natives generally do of wanting something to eat,
and pointed towards me. Whether he meant to ask if I was hungry, or to
suggest that I should make a very good supper for him, I do not know, but
I bowed my head as if I understood him perfectly. We then separated, I
keeping a careful watch upon him all the time I was crossing the creek.
Before I left him the other one joined. The first was a tall, powerful,
well-made fellow, upwards of six feet; his hair was very long, and he had
a red-coloured net tied round his head, with the ends of his hair lying
on his shoulders. I observed nothing else that was peculiar about them.
They had neither skins nor anything round their bodies, but were quite
naked. They then took their departure. A short time afterwards I saw them
joined by five others. We have seen nothing more of them to-day, and I
hope they will not trouble us any more, but let me get my horses rested
in peace. Wind south, all the clouds gone; nights and mornings very cold.
Occupied during the day in shoeing horses, and repairing and making

Thursday, 14th June, Bishop Creek. On examining the water holes, I find
there are small crab fish in them, which leads me to think this water is
permanent. This morning we again hear the voices of the natives up the
creek to the west. There must be plenty more water up there, as most of
the birds go in that direction to drink, passing by this water. The
natives have not come near us to-day, but we have seen the smoke of their
fires. Shoeing horses, repairing and making saddle-bags, which were torn
all to pieces by the scrub.

Friday, 15th June, Bishop Creek. Resting horses, and getting our
equipment in order for another trial, as I think the horses will be ready
to start on Monday morning. No more of the natives but their smoke is
still visible. Wind south; day hot, night cool.

Saturday, 16th June, Bishop Creek. The horses are still drinking an
immense quantity of water; they are at it five and six times a day; they
must have suffered dreadfully. The grass here is as dry as if it were the
middle of summer, instead of winter. I hope we may soon have rain, which
would be a great blessing to me.

Sunday, 17th June, Bishop Creek. The horses still pay frequent visits to
the water. We have found more about a mile up the creek, and there seems
to be plenty further up in the hills; I cannot examine it just now, in
consequence of the natives being about. It would not do for me to leave,
as the party is so small, nor do I like sending one of them, for he might
be taken by surprise and cut off, which would ruin me altogether, being
able to do scarcely anything myself. Although I am much better, I am
still very weak; the pains in my limbs are not so constant. I attribute
the relief to eating a number of native cucumbers which are in quantities
on this creek. The horse that was kicked by the mare is still very lame.
Wind south-east.

Monday, 18th June, Bishop Creek. Started at 9.30 on a bearing of 18
degrees, through a plain of alternate grass, scrub, and spinifex, and at
five miles passed a number of isolated hills close together, composed of
large masses of ironstone, quartz, and a hard brown rock, very irregular,
and all sorts of shapes; the stones seem as if they had undergone the
action of fire. We then proceeded through some very bad spinifex,
dark-coloured, long, hard and dry; we could scarcely get the horses to
face it. We then came upon a grassy plain, and at ten miles struck a gum
creek coming from the west of north-west, and running (at this place)
east-north-east; followed it and found an abundance of water in long deep
holes, with shells of the crab fish lying on the banks. The water is
upwards of a mile in length; the creek then spreads out over a grassy
plain with scrub and gum-trees, and is joined by the other creeks coming
from the McDouall range. I thought it advisable to camp here for the rest
of the day, as a further journey would be a risk for the horse that is
lame, and I do not wish to lose any more; as it is, I am afraid he will
not be able to cross Short range, which I hope to do in a few hours.
Natives about. Splendid grass on this plain, and on the banks of the
creek, which I have named Phillips Creek, after John Phillips, Esquire,
J.P., of Kanyaka. Wind variable.

Tuesday, 19th June, Phillips Creek. Started at 8 o'clock on the same
bearing, 18 degrees. We first passed through a well-grassed plain with a
little scrub, then again through hard spinifex to the range. At one mile
crossed another gum creek with water in it, coming from Short range. At
four miles reached the top of the spur of the range; and at seven miles,
the top of the range. About two miles to the east, the range seems to
terminate in a gum plain, a spur from the McDouall range running on the
other side of the plain, and crossing our line a few miles further on.
Short range here is composed of quartz, ironstone, and red granite, with
a little limestone. Descended into the plain, and at ten miles came upon
another gum creek, spreading over a grassy plain, but could find no
water. At thirteen miles came upon some dry swamps with a number of birds
about them. At fourteen miles reached the top of the next range. From
this the appearance of the country, on this course, is evidently very
scrubby. On a bearing of 55 degrees, in the far distance, is the
termination of another range. I do not like facing the scrub again so
soon after my late loss, and with my horses not yet recovered. I shall
return to the swamps and look for water. If I find any, I shall start in
the morning for the end of the distant range. My lame horse is unable to
do more to-day; crossing the range has been very hard upon him. Returned
to the swamps and found a fine pond of water. Camped. The water is
derived from the creek that we passed in the middle of the day. I have
named these ponds after Kekwick, in token of the zeal and activity he has
displayed during the expedition.

Wednesday, 20th June, Kekwick Ponds. Saddled at sunrise, and proceeded to
the top of the low range, from which I turned back yesterday, and changed
my course to 56 degrees to the northernmost point of the distant hills,
through a plain of alternate grass and spinifex. At 3 o'clock struck the
William Creek again, with splendid grass on its banks. It ran nearly our
course for about three miles, and then turned to the east. We then
entered the same sort of scrub as that in which I lost my horses; this
continued until we reached the hills, which we did in about eighteen
miles. From this we can see a range to the south-south-east. About ten
miles off there is a large lake, with red sand hills on the east side. I
cannot see the extent of it, the hills that I am now on being so low;
they are composed of granite, and run north and south. To the north and
north-east is another lake, about the same distance, to which I shall go
on a course of 32 degrees 30 minutes. On the north side of this one there
are also sand hills with scrub. For two miles after leaving the hills we
passed through a soft, sandy, scrubby country and spinifex. It then
became harder, with grass and spinifex alternately. At four miles from
the hills we camped without water. My horses have not recovered from
their last trial, and seem to be very tired to-night, although to-day's
journey was not a long one, but it has been very hot, and the scrub thick
and difficult to get through.

Thursday, 21st June, Scrub. The horses having gone back on the track, we
did not get a start until 8.30--course, 32 degrees 30 minutes to a high
hill on the other side of the lake, passing through a thick scrub of
cork-tree and gums, with spinifex and grass. At seven miles came upon
what I thought was the lake, but it turns out to be a large plain of rich
alluvial soil covered with dry grass, which gave it the appearance of a
lake. It was three miles across to the top of the hill; no water-course
through, nor any water to be seen. The hills on the north side are
composed of ironstone and granite, and, from the distance, looked very
much like sand hills. From the top of the hill I can see the plain
extending a little to the west of north, but I cannot see far for the
mirage. To the north-north-east is another plain of the same description,
but much smaller, about a mile and a half broad, and nearly circular. To
the north-east is another very extensive one; its dimensions I cannot
see. I seem to have got into the land of grassy plains and low stony
hills. I wish my horses had had water last night or yesterday. They seem
to be very much in want of it. I must devote the rest of this day to a
search for it. I shall now direct my course for the south part of the
plain that I have just crossed; it seems to be the lowest part, and the
flight of the birds is directed that way. Searched all round, but can
find no water; so I must return to Kekwick Ponds. The day is extremely
hot, and my horses cannot stand two more nights without water. Would that
they had more endurance! It is dreadful to have to turn back almost at
the threshold of success. I cannot be far from the dip of the country to
the Gulf. Returned by another course to where I camped last night, but
still no water. I would fain try the plain to the south, but I dare not
risk the loss of more horses. Proceeded to the low range that I crossed
yesterday; examined round it, but cannot find any water. Camped. Two of
the horses very much done up. I must go back through that nasty scrub

Friday, 22nd June, Under the West Low Range. Started at sunrise for the
ponds, and at 1.30 arrived; the horses being very much exhausted. I am
glad I did not remain another night without water; three of them are
completely done up, and it has been with difficulty that we have got them
here. Wind south-west.

Saturday, 23rd June, Kekwick Ponds. Resting horses. About 1 o'clock we
were visited by two natives, who presented us with four opossums and a
number of small birds and parrots. They were much frightened at first,
but after a short time became very bold, and, coming to our camp, wanted
to steal everything they could lay their fingers on. I caught one
concealing the rasp that is used in shoeing the horses under the netting
he had round his waist, and was obliged to take it from him by force. The
canteens they seemed determined to have, and it was with difficulty we
could get them from them. They wished to pry into everything, until I
lost all patience and ordered them off. In about half an hour two other
young men approached the camp. Thinking they might be in want of water,
and afraid to come to it on account of the horses, I sent Ben with a tin
dishful, which they drank. They were very young men, and too much
frightened to come any nearer. About an hour before sundown, one of the
first that had come, returned, bringing with him three others, two of
whom were young, tall, powerful, well made, and good-looking, and as fine
specimens of the native as I have yet seen. On their heads they had a
neatly-fitting hat or helmet close to the brow, and rising straight up to
a rounded peak, three or four inches above the head and gradually
becoming narrower towards the back part. The outside was net-work; the
inside was composed of feathers very tightly bound together with cord
until it was as hard as a piece of wood; it may be used as a protection
from the sun, or as armour for the battle-field. One of them had a great
many scars upon him, and seemed to be a leading man. Only two had helmets
on, the others had pieces of netting bound round their foreheads. One was
an old man, and seemed to be the father of these two fine young men. He
was very talkative, but I could make nothing of him. I have endeavoured,
by signs, to get information from him as to where the next water is, but
we cannot understand each other. After some time, and having conferred
with his two sons, he turned round, and surprised me by giving me one of
the Masonic signs. I looked at him steadily; he repeated it, and so did
his two sons. I then returned it, which seemed to please them much, the
old man patting me on the shoulder and stroking down my beard. They then
took their departure, making friendly signs until they were out of sight.
We enjoyed a good supper from the opossums, which we have not had for
many a day. The men are complaining of weakness from the want of
sufficient nourishment. I find the quantity of rations is not enough;
five pounds of flour per week is too little for many weeks together. It
may do very well for a month or so, but when it comes to the length of
time we have been out, we all feel it very much; and the dried meat that
I brought with me being very young, it has not half the strength in it
that old meat has.

Sunday, 24th June, Kekwick Ponds. Our black friends have not made their
appearance to-day.

Monday, 25th June, Kekwick Ponds. Started again on a bearing of 345
degrees to some very distant hills, to see if I can get into the face of
the country to the Gulf of Carpentaria. At two miles crossed a large gum
creek (with long beds of concrete ironstone), which I have named Hayward
Creek, after Frederick Hayward, Esquire. The banks are beautifully
grassed, and extend for four miles on the north side. At fourteen miles
struck a gum creek with large sheets of water in which were plenty of
ducks, native companions, black shags, cranes, and other birds. Camped
here for the remainder of the day. The course of the creek at this point
is to the north of east, and coming from the north of west, apparently
from the range, which is distant about ten miles. It very much resembles
Chambers Creek. The ponds (in which we found some small fish) are about
eighty yards broad, and about three quarters of a mile long, having large
masses of concrete ironstone at both ends, separating the one pond from
the other; large gum-trees being in the ponds. Wind north-west. Very hot.

Tuesday, 26th June, Large Gum Creek, with Sheets of Water. I have
resolved to follow this creek down to-day, and, if the water continues,
to follow it out. Started on a course 77 degrees, and at six miles
crossed the creek, which is running a little more to the north. There are
long sheets of water all the way down to this, the banks in some places
being steep, with the lower part formed of concrete, and the upper red
sandy soil, which gives me a bad opinion of it for water, if the concrete
ceases. Here we saw some blacks; they would not come near us, but walked
off as fast as they could. From the top of the rise we saw where they
were camped, on the banks of a large sheet of water; we passed on without
taking any more notice of them, and at nine miles, not seeing any
appearance of the creek, I changed my course to 25 degrees. At three
quarters of a mile cut it again, but without water in it; it is much
narrower and deeper, having sandy banks and bed. Changed again to 77
degrees, the creek frequently crossing our course, and at fifteen miles
saw there was no hope of obtaining water. The country is becoming more
sandy, and is thickly covered with spinifex and scrub. We crossed down to
the banks of the creek; no rising ground visible. I must keep closer to
the hills, and, as the day has been very hot, I shall return and camp at
nine miles from our last camp, if there is water; if not, I shall have to
camp a short way above where we saw the natives this morning. I do not
wish to get too near them, or to annoy them in any way. We could find no
water below where they were camped; I therefore pushed on to get above
them before dark. At half-past one o'clock, about three miles from the
creek, we saw where they had been examining our tracks, and as we
approached the creek their tracks became very numerous on ours. When we
arrived on the top of the rise, where we had previously seen their camp
and fires, we could now see nothing of them, neither smoke, fires, nor
anything else: it was then nearly dark. I concluded they had left in
consequence of having seen us pass in the morning, as natives in general
do. I was moving on to the place where we crossed the creek in the
morning, when suddenly from behind some scrub which we had just entered,
up started three tall powerful fellows fully armed, having a number of
boomerangs, waddies, and spears. Their distance from us was about two
hundred yards. It being so nearly dark, and the scrub we were then in
placing us at a disadvantage, I wished to pass without taking any notice
of them, but such was not their intention, for they continued to approach
us, calling out and making all sorts of gestures apparently of defiance.
I then faced them, making every sign of friendship I could think of. They
seemed to be in a great fury, moving their boomerangs above their head,
bawling at the top of their voices, and performing some sort of a dance.
They were now joined by more of their tribe, so that in a few minutes
their numbers had increased to upwards of thirty; every bush seemed to
produce a man. Putting the horses on towards the creek, and placing
ourselves between them and the natives, I told my men to get their guns
ready, for I could see they were determined upon mischief. They paid no
regard to all the signs of friendship I kept constantly making, but were
still gradually approaching nearer and nearer to us. I felt very
unwilling to fire upon them, and still continued making signs of peace
and friendship, but all to no purpose. Their leader, an old man, who was
in advance, made signs with his boomerang, which we took as a signal for
us to be off. They were, however, intended as tokens of defiance, for I
had no sooner turned my horse's head to comply with what I thought were
their wishes, than we received a shower of boomerangs, accompanied by a
fearful yell; they then set fire to the grass, and commenced jumping,
dancing, yelling, and throwing their arms into all sorts of postures,
like so many fiends. In addition to the thirty that already confronted
us, I could now see many others getting up from behind the bushes. Still
I felt unwilling to fire upon them, and tried again to make them
understand that we wished to do them no harm. Having now approached
within about forty yards of us, they made another charge, and threw their
boomerangs, which came whistling and whizzing past our ears, one of them
striking my horse. I then gave orders to fire, which stayed their mad
career for a little. Our pack-horses, which were on before us, took
fright when they heard the firing and fearful yelling, and made off for
the creek. Seeing some of the blacks running from bush to bush, with the
intention of cutting us off from our horses, while those in front were
still yelling, throwing their boomerangs, and coming nearer to us, we
gave them another reception, and I sent Ben after the horses to drive
them on to a more favourable place, while Kekwick and I remained to cover
our rear. We soon got in advance of those who were endeavouring to cut us
off, but they still kept following, though beyond the reach of our guns,
the fearful yelling still continuing from more numerous voices, and fires
springing up in every direction. It being now quite dark, with the
country scrubby, and our enemies bold and daring, we could be easily
surrounded and destroyed by such determined fellows as they have shown
themselves to be. Seeing there is no hope with such fearful odds (ten to
one at least) against us, and knowing all the disadvantages under which
we labour, I very unwillingly make up my mind to push on to our last
night's camp. We have done so, and now I have had a little time to
consider the matter over I do not think it prudent to remain here
to-night; I shall therefore continue on until I reach the open grassy
plain or gum creek. They are still following us up; I only wish that I
had four more men, for my party is so small that we can only fall back
and act on the defensive. If I were to stand and fight them (which I wish
I could) our horses must remain unprotected, and we, in all probability,
should be cut off from them. Our enemies seem to be aiming at that, and
to prevent our advance up the creek; by this time they have found out
their mistake, as we did not go a step out of our course for them.
Arrived at Hayward Creek at 11 o'clock at night.

Wednesday, 27th June, Hayward Creek. This morning we see signal fires all
around us. It was my intention last night to have gone this morning to
Kekwick Ponds to water the horses, then to give them the day to rest, and
proceed to-morrow back again to the large creek, and go on to the distant
hills that I was steering for on the 25th instant, but, after considering
the matter over the whole night, I have most reluctantly come to the
determination to abandon the attempt to make the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Situated as I now am, it would be most imprudent. In the first place my
party is far too small to cope with such wily, determined natives as
those we have just encountered. If they had been Europeans they could not
better have arranged and carried out their plan of attack. They had
evidently observed us passing in the morning, had examined our tracks to
see which way we had gone, and knew we could get no water down the creek,
but must retrace our steps to obtain it above them; they therefore lay in
wait for our return. Their charge was in double column, open order, and
we had to take steady aim, to make an impression. With such as these for
enemies in our rear, and, most probably, far worse in advance, it would
be destruction to all my party for me to attempt to go on. All the
information of the interior that I have already obtained would be lost.
Moreover, we have only half rations for six months, four of which are
gone, and I have been economizing as much as I possibly could in case of
our having to be out a longer time, so that my men now complain of great
weakness, and are unable to perform what they have to do. Again, only two
showers of rain have fallen since March, and I am afraid of the waters
drying up to the south, and there is no appearance of rain at present.
The days are now become very hot again, and the feed for the horses as
dry as if it were the middle of summer. The poor animals are very much
reduced in condition, so much so that I am afraid of their being longer
than one night without water. Finally, my health is so bad, that I am
hardly able to sit in the saddle. After taking all those things into
consideration, I think it would be madness and folly to attempt more. If
my own life were the only sacrifice, I would willingly risk it to
accomplish my purpose; but it seems that I am destined to be
disappointed; man proposes, but the Almighty disposes, and his will must
be obeyed. Seeing the signal fires around, and dreading lest our black
friends at Kekwick Ponds might have been playing a double part with us,
in spite of their Masonic signs, I gave them a wide berth, and steered
for Bishop Creek. Arrived there in the afternoon, and found that the
creek had not been visited by natives since we left. These natives do not
deposit their dead bodies in the ground, but place them in the trees,
and, judging from the number of these corpses which we have passed
between this and the large creek, where they made their attack upon us,
they must be very numerous. These natives have quite a different cast of
features from those in the south; they have neither the broad flat nose
and large mouth, nor the projecting eyebrows, but have more of the Malay;
they are tall, muscular, well-made men, and I think they must have seen
or encountered white men before.

Thursday, 28th June, Bishop Creek. Camped at the rocky water hole
north-east side of the McDouall range.

Friday, 29th June, Anderson Creek. Crossed the McDouall ranges and camped
on a gum creek on the north-east side of the Murchison ranges, which I
have named Gilbert Creek, after Thomas Gilbert, Esquire, late Colonial

Saturday, 30th June, Gilbert Creek. Crossed the Murchison ranges, and the
large gum creek coming from them, and running west-north-west, which I
have named Baker Creek, after the Honourable John Baker, M.L.C. I did not
examine it, but should think from its appearance that there is water in
it; besides, I can distinguish the smoke of a native encampment.
Proceeded to the creek where we camped before, but found all the water
gone, except a little moisture in the bottom of the holes. I was rather
surprised at this, for I thought it would have lasted three months at
least. Went to another creek, where there was a large hole of water in
conglomerate rock; this we found also to be very much reduced; when we
last saw it, its depth was four feet, and now it is only eighteen inches.

Sunday, 1st July, Murchison Ranges. My horses very tired, and three of
them are nearly done up.

Monday, 2nd July, Murchison Ranges. Proceeded to the Bonney Creek to get
feed for the horses, there being very little besides spinifex under the
ranges. Smoke of native encampments on and about the creek; I must be
very careful.

Tuesday, 3rd July, The Bonney Creek. We have not seen any more of the
natives yet. I shall rest the horses to-day, there being plenty of feed,
which they very much want. Being so very few of us, I am obliged to turn
them out with the saddles on; so that, if we are attacked again, one can
put the packs on, while I and the other defend him. The water in this
hole is very much reduced, but I think it will not fail altogether, in
consequence of the small fish being in it. From the diminution of the
water in this creek since I left it, a month ago, I am inclined to think
that I shall have a very hard push to get back; my horses being so weak
from the hardships they have undergone, that they are now unable to do as
much as they did before. I fear that I shall not get any water between
this and Forster's range, a distance of upwards of eighty miles, so I
shall rest them here for a week, if the natives will be quiet; if not, I
must run the risk of losing more of them. To-day, I had made up my mind
to follow out this creek, to see if the waters continue, and if it would
take me to the north of the spinifex and gum-tree plain which I had to
turn back from on my north-west course from Mount Denison, and if rain
falls to try again for the Victoria River. I am, however, disappointed,
for, on weighing the rations, I find I am terribly short, which I did not
expect, and which cuts off all hope of my attaining that point. My
troubles and vexations seem to come upon me all at once. Had I but a
stronger party, and six months' rations, I think I should be able to
accomplish something before my return. I have done my best, and can do no
more. My eyesight is now so bad that I cannot depend upon my
observations, which will be a great loss to me; and the scurvy has
returned with greater severity. Before I start on my return, if
everything goes right, I shall run down this creek a short distance. It
may, at some future time, turn out to be the road to the Victoria River,
or one of its tributaries. Wind south and south-west.

Wednesday, 4th July, The Bonney Creek. The water in this hole has been
diminishing very rapidly since we were here; it is falling at the rate of
six inches per day, which is a poor look-out for us on our homeward
course. I have not a day to spare now, as the weather is becoming very
hot, and will dry it up much faster. I must push back as soon as my
horses are rested and able to undergo the eighty miles without water. I
must give up the examination of this creek, for every day now is of the
utmost importance, and I must not give the horses one mile more than I
can help. Oh! that rain would fall before I leave this. It would indeed
be an inestimable blessing. Wind from all points. At sundown a few clouds
have made their appearance.

Thursday, 5th July, The Bonney Creek. During the night it became very
cloudy from the west, and this morning still continues. My hopes are
again raised. If it should rain, I shall try for the Victoria River
again, even though I should be without rations for my return; I could
kill one of the horses and dry his flesh, and that would take me back.
Still very cloudy, and every sign of rain. I am making preparations for
another trial. At sundown there are still heavy black clouds coming from
the west, which have raised our hopes of success to the highest point,
and I ardently trust they will be realized. No natives have come near us,
yet they are still about.

Friday, 6th July, The Bonney Creek. A sad, sad disappointment; all our
most sanguine hopes are again gone, for, during the night, the clouds
broke up and have all vanished; it is very vexing. I shall rest the
horses till Monday, and then, ill and dispirited, commence my homeward
journey. I dare not venture into a new route, for, want of water, and the
low condition of my horses, compel me to keep my former track. Last night
about 10 o'clock, I observed the comet for the first time, above the west
horizon; it set at 7 o'clock 20 degrees north of west. At sundown it has
become overcast with heavy clouds, and my hopes are again raised; I trust
we may get it now. Midnight: still cloudy, and every appearance of rain.
Wind changeable.

Saturday, 7th July, The Bonney Creek. Alas! all the clouds are again
gone; our hopes were only raised to be dashed down with greater
disappointment. The wind has returned to its old quarter, south-east.
Natives still about, but they do not come near us. I shall now prepare
for my return on Monday morning; it is very disheartening.

Sunday, 8th July, The Bonney Creek. The weather has every appearance of
being dry for some time to come, not a cloud to be seen; the wind
south-east, and very cold night and morning. All hope of making the coast
is now gone. On weighing our rations to-day, I find that we are again
short since we halted here. The man Ben has been making it a regular
practice to steal them since he has been with me. I have caught him
several times doing so, and all the threats and warnings of the
consequences have had no effect upon him. They deter him for a day or
two, and then he is as bad as ever. I have been in the habit of reducing
our allowance to make up for the loss, which has been very hard upon
Kekwick and myself; he has helped himself to about double his allowance
during the journey.

Monday, 9th July, The Bonney Creek. Started for the Davenport range,
where we camped before; the water is all dried up. Ascended the range,
and changed my bearing to Mount Morphett, 196 degrees, in the Crawford


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