Journals of Australian Explorations
A C and F T Gregory
Part 7 out of 8
twenty feet, and extend over a breadth of 70 to 100 yards. It is the
largest stream-bed crossed since leaving the river, and may possibly
drain the country to a distance of sixty miles to the southward. At 1.25
camped on a small creek trending to the north-north-east, in which were
pools twenty yards long and five feet deep.
Latitude by a Trianguli Australis 17 degrees 1 minute 31 seconds.
NATIVE FISHING NETS.
Left the camp at 7.0 a.m. and continued a south-easterly course, crossing
a succession of sandy valleys and broken sandstone hills; the strata
horizontal, and lamina dipping to the north and east generally, but
sometimes in the opposite direction; the soil poor and sandy, producing
little besides white-gum and triodia. At noon ascended a high ridge, from
which we saw a broad valley to the south-east, beyond which was a range
of flat-topped hills terminating abruptly at the northern end, which bore
east by north. Descending by a rocky ravine, at 1.30 p.m. reached a fine
creek, on which we camped. This creek had deep pools of water fifty yards
wide; but the steep rocky character of its banks caused the channel to
appear larger than if it had been in a more level country. Under some
large rocks Dean found a fishing-net made neatly of twisted bark, the
mesh one and a half inch, the length perhaps thirty feet; some fishing
spears showed the marks of iron tools. The rocks in this part of the
country often contain angular fragments of the lower strata; thus the
limestone includes fragments of chert and jasper, and the sandstone
pieces of limestone, but I could not detect either granite, quartz, or
Latitude by a Trianguli Australis 17 degrees 11 minutes 1 second.
At 6.20 a.m. we were again in the saddle, and steered south-east across
very rocky hills till 8.0, when we entered a fine valley with low hills
of limestone and trap, well grassed and thinly wooded with box-trees and
acacia; at 10.0 ascended a rough sandstone range with white-gum, acacia,
and triodia; at 11.0 again descended into a valley bounded by sandstone
cliffs on the northern side, and camped at a fine pool of water in a
small creek at 12.5. Several trees near this pool of water had been
marked by the blacks, the bark having been removed, the wood was painted
yellow with brown spots at regular intervals, and vertical waved lines in
black. It is evident from the outline of the hills that we are travelling
on the edge of the tableland of Northern Australia, and this accounts for
the small size of the watercourses, while the abrupt and broken nature of
the hills has caused the rocks to form channels of sufficient size to
retain water throughout the year, while the same disruption of the strata
has exposed the limestone and trap-rock, has caused fertile patches of
country, and thus enabled us to traverse a country which is otherwise
barren and inhospitable in the extreme, our chief difficulty being the
rocky character of the country, which can only be traversed with
well-shod horses. It is possible that some small tracts of available
country may exist between our track and the shores of the Gulf of
Carpentaria, but to the south there is little to expect besides a barren
sandy desert, as on every occasion that the tableland has been ascended,
nothing but sandy worthless country has been encountered.
Latitude by Vega 17 degrees 17 minutes 56 seconds.
Resumed our journey at 6.35 a.m., and followed a large creek up to the
south-east, and at 7.45 crossed it below a fine pool of water, above
which the creek came from the south-west, in which direction the country
consisted of low sandstone hills of barren aspect. We then crossed a few
miles of sandy tableland and descended at 10.20 into a deep valley
trending east. This brought us to a small creek with good water, on which
we encamped at 11.30. The country is very poor and rocky, thinly wooded
with box-trees in valleys and white-gum on the hills, where the grass is
replaced by triodia. Kangaroos are more numerous than in any other part
of Australia yet visited by the Expedition, and as many as twelve or
fifteen have been seen each day. Early in the morning a light breeze from
west; at 7.0 a fresh breeze from south-east which lasted till 4 p.m., and
at sunset a light air from west.
Latitude by Vega 17 degrees 23 minutes 26 seconds.
At 6.30 a.m. steered south-east and followed the valley of the creek till
8.0, when it turned to the north-east; continuing our course along the
valley south-east, though there was now no watercourse in it, at 11.20
came on a creek in a trap valley trending north-east, across the larger
valley, and crossing a ridge of sandstone and basalt, came on a large
creek trending north, in which were long pools of water fifteen to twenty
yards wide. Following this creek upwards to the south-south-east, as the
valley widened the water ceased for some distance, but at 12.40 p.m. came
on a pool supplied by a spring at the upper end. Here we encamped, as
there was some good grass. The rock which formed the hills on this day's
journey is a hard red-brown sandstone, the lower part thin-bedded,
beneath which trap or basalt has been forced between the strata, and was
exposed in the deep valleys excavated by the creeks. The view at times
extended twenty miles to the north-east over a level depressed country,
beyond which were low ridges of hills. The country generally was poor and
stony, thinly wooded with eucalypti and acacia, except when the basalt
was exposed, and by its decomposition formed a richer soil, well covered
with grass and very open in character.
17th August (Sunday).
Grass and water being sufficient, remained at the camp to rest the
horses, though, as several had to be shod, it was not altogether a day of
rest to the party. A fresh breeze from south-east cooled the air at noon,
but died away towards sunset.
Latitude by Vega 17 degrees 32 minutes 11 seconds; longitude by lunar
distances 135 degrees 51 minutes 15 seconds.
Collected the horses early, but two of them appeared to be much griped
from eating the coarse grass, and I therefore delayed starting till 7.40
a.m., and then ascended the stony range to the south-east and reached the
tableland. The soil was sandy with acacia scrub, paper-bark gum,
stringybark, and bloodwood; at 10.0 the country became stony, with
white-gum, tall acacia, and triodia, and we gradually ascended till the
aneroid indicated an elevation of 1100 feet, and we appeared to be on a
ridge parallel to the tableland of the interior and at a greater
elevation; at 1.20 p.m. observed a clump of melaleuca in a deep rocky
ravine, and steered south to it. Here we found a spring with a few acres
of grass around it, and encamped.
Latitude by Vega 17 degrees 40 minutes 31 seconds.
BASALTIC RANGE. 1300 FEET ABOVE SEA.
At 6.45 a.m. steered south-east and soon ascended a rocky range of
altered sandstone and trap or basalt, thinly wooded with white-gum, tall
acacia, and grevillia, triodia, and treraphis superseding the grass; at
7.30 the aneroid indicated the greatest altitude (1300 feet) which we had
attained since leaving the Victoria River. From this point the view was
extensive to the north and south. Towards the interior the surface of the
tableland, not being so elevated as our position, appeared like a vast
level plain without any marked feature whatsoever. To the north the
country appeared to consist of low ridges of wooded hills gradually
decreasing in height as they receded. Southward our view was intercepted
by broken wooded hills of equal elevation with our position, while deep
ravines trending to the south intercepted our route. I therefore altered
the course to 200 degrees magnetic, and descended a rocky valley in which
was a small watercourse which enlarged into a considerable creek with
large rocky waterholes. The hills consisted of basalt and altered
sandstone, which dipped 20 degrees to 60 degrees to the north-west, and
by their outcrop formed parallel ridges which we passed with difficulty
and great risk to our horses; at 12.30 p.m. we extricated ourselves from
these ridges and entered a level valley extending thirty miles to the
north-east and south-west. Here granite rock was exposed on the bank of
the creek, which now trended across the valley to the south-east, with a
broad sandy bed from a quarter to half a mile in width, but quite dry and
overgrown with bushes; at 4.5 reached the hills which bounded the valley
to the south-east, and the creek entering a deep gorge which, by
concentrating its waters, had formed a fine pool, at which we encamped.
The country after leaving the basalt hills, where the valleys were well
grassed, was barren and useless sand, gravel, and rock.
Latitude by Vega 17 degrees 53 minutes 42 seconds.
We left our camp at 7.0 a.m., and finding the valley of the creek
impassable, crossed the hills in an east-south-east direction, the
country consisting of steep sandstone ridges covered with triodia and a
few stunted eucalypti; at 3.0 p.m. we again attained the bank of the
creek and camped in a small patch of coarse rushes, as there was no grass
for the horses.
Latitude by Vega 17 degrees 58 minutes 7 seconds.
Leaving this miserable spot with our starving horses, followed the creek,
which had now increased to a small river, to the east-south-east, and
after two hours' travelling reached a small patch of grass and camped at
8.20 a.m.; the bed of the river is nearly dry, only a few shallow pools
remaining in the sandy channel, which is ten to fifty yards wide, with
smaller side channels, altogether occupying a breadth of nearly 200
yards, dense clumps of melaleuca-trees growing in the intervening banks
of sand; large quantities of unio-shell, some five and six inches in
length, are found on the banks of the river near the camps of the blacks;
Bowman complains of an attack of scurvy, which causes pains in his legs
and swelling of the gums.
Although our yesterday's journey was only of two hours' duration, the
horses appeared very weak and fatigued when we started at 6.45 am, and it
was with great difficulty that Boco and Monkey could keep up with the
rest of the horses; we were frequently compelled to leave the bank of the
river and cross steep rocky ridges of sandstone rock; the country was
very rugged and barren, producing little besides triodia and a few
stunted gum-trees. The bed of the river increased to 400 yards in width,
consisting of sandy channels with narrow banks of sand covered with large
melaleuca-trees between them. At 1.5 p.m. camped in a small patch of dry
wiry grass; procuring water from a small pool in the bed of the river.
Latitude by Vega 17 degrees 59 minutes 2 seconds.
THE NICHOLSON RIVER.
Resumed our journey at 7.15 a.m., following the right bank of the river
to the east-north-east; it soon passed between two steep rocky hills and
turned to the north. Continuing our course a short distance, rocky hills
compelled us to turn north-north-east to regain the banks of the river,
following an ana-branch till 11.0 a.m., when it joined the main channel,
which then trended north-east; at 11.30 came to a small grassy flat,
along the banks of the river, and camped. The valley of the river is now
more open, but the country of very barren character, with stunted
eucalypti and triodia on the hills, and melaleuca and flooded-gum trees,
with a little grass, on the bank of the river. The hills have decreased
in height, the upper strata thick-bedded coarse sandstone with sandstone
shale beneath; hard white sandstone exists in some of the lower ridges.
Latitude by Vega 17 degrees 56 minutes 37 seconds; longitude by lunar
distances 138 degrees 22 minutes 7 seconds.
24th August (Sunday).
Although this was not a good spot for a day's halt, yet it was requisite
the horses should have a day's rest, and, as it was Sunday, remained at
the camp. While collecting the horses a native woman and child were seen
at a distance, in the bed of the river; but on being approached hid
themselves in the reeds, and though the grass was set on fire in several
places by the blacks, they were not seen again.
Resumed our journey down the river at 8.5 a.m., the general course being
east; at 2.35 p.m. camped at a nymphae pool in one of the side channels
of the river. The country was now more level and open, with grassy flats
along the river, but the back country rose into low rocky sandstone
hills, thinly clothed with white-gum and triodia. At noon we crossed a
sandstone ridge, from which the view was extensive, but, except on a
range of hills fifteen miles north of our position and terminating
abruptly on a north-east bearing, there was nothing visible but low and
flat wooded country. The bed of the river is a quarter of a mile wide,
consisting of broad sandy channels with low sandy ridges between covered
with melaleuca and acacia trees. Some of the party walked down the river
and came to the camp of some blacks; but only one lame old man remained,
who made a great noise to frighten away the invaders of his country.
Latitude by a Aquilae 17 degrees 54 minutes 18 seconds.
Followed down the river from 6.45 a.m. till 1.40 p.m., the general course
being east. The country is now more level, and ironstone conglomerate
forms low steep banks to the river, the bed of which is unchanged, being
broad dry sandy channels. The back country shows no improvement, and is
covered with triodia. Some blacks were seen on the left bank of the
river, but though within hearing of our horses' bells, did not appear to
Latitude by z and a Aquilae 17 degrees 54 minutes 10 seconds.
The course of the river continued nearly east, and we followed its right
bank from 7.30 a.m. till 1.5 p.m., when we camped at a fine pool of water
in one of the side channels, the main channel continuing dry and sandy.
The country on the immediate bank of the river was openly wooded with
box, flooded-gum, leguminous ironbark, and melia, and was scantily
grassed; the soil a brown sandy loam. Beyond the influence of the floods
the ground was quite level; small terminalia, broad-leafed melaleuca, and
silver-leafed ironbark, with dry triodia, formed the entire vegetation of
this worthless plain. Ironstone conglomerate and sandstone boulders are
the only rocks visible.
Latitude by Vega 17 degrees 56 minutes 32 seconds.
A FINE STREAM OF RUNNING WATER.
Our day's journey commenced at 7.0 a.m., and following the right bank of
the river to the east-south-east till 12.45 p.m., encamped in the bed of
the river, which was nearly half a mile wide from bank to bank, the
principal channel, eighty yards wide, was shallow and sandy, with a few
small pools of water at intervals. The side channels of similar
character, but smaller and without water. Beyond the bed the banks rose
abruptly about thirty feet, and then appeared to decline as it receded,
and no higher ground was visible. The soil was a sandy loam, thinly
timbered with small box-trees and scanty grass.
Latitude by Vega and b Cygni 18 degrees 1 minute 3 seconds.
At 7.20 a.m. steered east through level box flats, the country gradually
becoming more open and better grassed, though very scantily; at noon
crossed some open grassy plains, and altered the course to north-east,
north-north-east, and north, and at 3.20 p.m. again came on the bank of
the river and encamped at a small pool of water; the rest of the channel,
which exceeded a quarter of a mile in width, being dry and overgrown with
large melaleuca and flooded-gum trees. The general character of the
country is a level plain about forty feet above the level of the river,
thinly wooded with box and a few bloodwood, acacia, and bauhinia trees;
the soil a brown loam, and the grass, though scanty, of good quality, but
at this season very dry.
Latitude by Vega 17 degrees 55 minutes 40 seconds.
At 6.50 a.m. steered east-north-east through box flats and open grassy
flats, the course of the river nearly parallel to our route; at 10.10
came to a large tributary creek from the south. Its principal channel was
30 yards wide, with pools separated by dry banks, but two small side
channels existed with small running stream. After half an hour's delay,
we succeeded in crossing without further accident than resulted from some
of the pack-horses falling down the bank into the water and wetting their
packs, and getting a ducking myself, which wetted the chronometers.
Water-pandanus, fan-palm, and casuarina formed a belt of trees along the
bank of the stream, which bore quite a different character to that of the
dry sandy bed of the river above the junction. Continuing our route, at
12.5 p.m. came to a second running creek, but of smaller size. This we
crossed and followed down to the east till 1.5, when we encamped. Here we
observed that, though the water was fresh, yet it was affected by the
tide, which was now at the highest spring.
Latitude by Vega 17 degrees 52 minutes 35 seconds.
THE ALBERT RIVER. A MARKED TREE.
31st August (Sunday).
Rode down the creek with Mr. H. Gregory. At two miles from the camp came
to the junction of a smaller creek from the south, the two forming a fine
reach of water, which we recognised as the Albert River of Captain
Stokes. This spot between the two creeks was the rendezvous appointed for
the two sections of the Expedition, and though, from the short period
which had elapsed since leaving the Victoria, the Tom Tough could
scarcely be expected to have arrived before us, on approaching the spot
we saw several marked trees:
CHUMLUT + arrow pointing up ORE RCH TO 1856,
but were disappointed in our hope that the vessel had reached the Albert,
as these marks consisted of several names of seamen, who appeared to have
formed the crew of a boat sent up the river by H.M. steamer Torch. Search
was made for directions for finding any memorandum which might have been
concealed, as I first thought it probable that the object of the visit
might have been to communicate with the Expedition; but the nature of the
inscriptions and the absence of anything which led to even a surmise of
what was the object of the visit caused us to come to the conclusion that
it had no reference to the North Australian Expedition. From the state of
the ashes of the fire and branches of the trees which had been cut and
broken, it appeared that several weeks had elapsed, and consequently the
Torch was not likely to still be in or near the river. In accordance with
arrangements made with Mr. Baines, I marked a tree thus:
NAE AUG 30 DIG1YD TO E.
in order to apprise him of our having reached the Albert, and of our
prospective movements. Returning to the camp, wrote a memorandum of the
visit of the Expedition and a note to Mr. Baines, informing him that we
intended leaving other marks and memoranda at the junction of the
salt-water arm of the river, and then continue without delay our route
towards Moreton Bay. These memoranda were enclosed in a powder-canister,
and Messrs. Elsey and Bowman took them down to the marked tree and buried
them. In the afternoon rode over with Mr. H. Gregory towards the
Nicholson River, crossing Beame's Brook. Steered north-north-east four
and a half miles over a level grassy plain with stripes of box-trees. As
we could see four or five miles farther, and no indication of the river,
returned to the camp, having ascertained that the Nicholson River does
not join the Albert, unless many miles below the junction of Beame's
Brook with the South Creek, which together form the Albert River.
At 7.40 a.m. steered east to the South Creek, which we found at the
distance of two miles, and followed it up for an hour in search of a
crossing place, as the channel was very muddy. A suitable spot having
been found, we filled up the channel, which was two yards wide, with
pandanus stems, and crossed the horses over without accident. Steering
east-north-east two miles across wide level plains, with patches of
box-trees, turned north at noon and struck the Albert just below the
junction of the South Creek and Beame's Brook. Finding the water
brackish, we did not proceed farther down the river, and encamped. The
existence of a narrow belt of mangrove along the bank of the river
indicates that the water is often salt to the head of the Albert.
Latitude by Vega 17 degrees 51 minutes 55 seconds.
The water in the river being very brackish, it became evident that we
should be unable to procure fresh water if we followed it towards the
sea, and therefore I decided on leaving the letters I had written to Mr.
Baines at this spot, and accordingly marked a tree thus:
NAEXPDN AUG 30 1856 DIG2YDN
and buried a tin canister with letters, stating that the exploring party
was to start the following morning for Moreton Bay, and instructing Mr.
Baines to remain at the Albert till the 29th September, 1856, in case any
unforeseen circumstance should compel the party to return to the Albert
within that period. Five months' flour, tea, sugar, etc., and three
months' supply of meat at full ration still remained; and as our horses
would supply the deficiency of meat, if required, we have sufficient
quantity of provisions to enable the party to reach the settled part of
New South Wales, unless extraordinary difficulties should be encountered;
under the circumstances it did not appear prudent to delay at the Albert
River, as the arrival of the Tom Tough might be deferred for an
Left our camp at 6.45 a.m., and steered east over level box-flats and
open grassy plains; at 10.0 came on a small creek, which we followed half
an hour to the north-east, when we came to salt-water, which had been
left in pools at high tides. I therefore steered south-east till 5.0 p.m.
and camped at a shallow pool in a large creek trending north. The country
consists of vast open level plains, separated by narrow belts of box and
terminalia trees; the soil a brown clay loam, producing rather short and
dry grass. On approaching the waterhole at which we encamped, a black and
three or four women were found camped on the opposite side of the creek;
they climbed the trees and remained among the branches till dusk, when
they descended to their fires and made a great noise till 9.0, when they
decamped. This creek is probably the head of the salt-water arm of the
Albert River or of the Disaster River.
Latitude by Vega 18 degrees 2 minutes 5 seconds; variation of compass 4
THE "PLAINS OF PROMISE," LEICHHARDT RIVER.
Continued a south-east course through large open plains thinly grassed;
passed a dry watercourse with a small waterhole in one of the back
channels, but insufficient for our horses, and at noon camped at a
shallow waterhole in a grassy flat. Mr. Elsey walked half a mile to the
eastward; came to a river eighty yards wide, but observing some blacks,
returned to the camp. In the evening nine blacks came towards us, and
appeared inclined to hostilities; but, after a short interview, retired
up the creek. These blacks were not circumcised, and their teeth were
perfect; they had neither ornaments or any description of clothing, and
were slightly scarred on the back and chest. Their spears were large and
heavy, made of a single piece of wood, and thrown by hand; they had also
smaller ones of reed, with wooden points, which were thrown with the
throwing board, which were flattened vertically; clubs two and a half
feet long and two and a half inches in diameter, and shields formed of a
single piece of wood two and a half feet long and three inches wide. The
river proved to be fresh, and in pools separated by rock flats, and is
evidently the same that Dr. Leichhardt supposed to be the Albert--a
mistake which has caused considerable error in the maps of his route; as
it was not named, I called it the Leichhardt. The character of the
country is inferior, as the grass which covers the plains is principally
aristidia and andropogon; anthisteria or kangaroo grass only in small
patches. The soil is a good brown loam.
Latitude by Vega 18 degrees 11 minutes 50 seconds.
ATTACK BY THE NATIVES.
At daybreak we heard the blacks making a great noise up the river, and
while the horses were being brought in nineteen blacks came to the camp,
all armed with clubs and spears. They did not make any hostile
demonstration, and the approach of the horses appeared to keep them in
check; and a person unacquainted with the treacherous character of the
Australian might have thought them friendly. When we started at 6.50 a.m.
they followed the party to the bank of the river, and began to ship their
spears, and when we were crossing a deep ravine made a rush on us with
their spears poised ready to throw them at us, hoping to take advantage
of our position; but just as their leader was in the act of throwing his
spear he received a charge of small shot. This checked them, and we
charged them on horseback, and with a few shots from our revolvers put
them to flight, except one man, who climbed a tree, where we left him, as
our object was only to procure our own safety, and that with as little
injury to the blacks as possible. We did not pursue our advantage; by
following the fugitives. Proceeding down the river a short distance, at
7.40 crossed to the right bank on a ledge of flat rocks. It was here
about 100 yards wide, with shallow reaches of water, the banks rising
steep--thirty to forty feet. Very little vegetation grew on the banks,
which appeared to result from salt water occasionally reaching this part
at very high tides. We now steered east over level grassy plains, with
patches of box and terminalia. Passed a small but deep waterhole, near
which were two black gins, who did not appear to notice us. At 10.0 the
country was covered with an open scrub of terminalia, with silvery
leaves, and triodia replaced the grass. At noon passed a small rocky
gully with a waterhole, which our horses quite emptied of its contents.
Altering the course to north-east, the country was covered with melaleuca
scrub, with silver-leafed ironbark, triodia, and a little grass; but we
soon re-entered the open plains which extended to the north, and,
following a watercourse at 3.5 p.m. camped at a small muddy waterhole, on
the banks of which the blacks had often encamped, as shown by the heaps
of mussel-shells round their fireplaces. Our route has been along the
southern limit of the open grassy plains, and to the south the country
rises into low ridges and stony plains, covered with scrub and triodia.
Latitude by Vega 18 degrees 7 minutes 45 seconds.
Starting at 6.25 a.m. our route was average east over a level country of
very bad quality; the soil ironstone gravel, producing terminalia,
triodia, and silk cotton-trees (Cochospermum gregoranum). Towards the
latter part of the stage the country improved, becoming more open and
grassy. At 12.15 camped on a large creek with a shallow pool of muddy
Latitude by Vega 18 degrees 9 minutes 45 seconds.
7th September (Sunday).
Remained at the camp to rest the party. A strong south-east wind blew
during the night, and the day was cool and clear; the air very dry.
Repaired our saddle-bags, which, from frequent contact with rocks and
dead trees, were much dilapidated.
Steered east-south-east from 6.40 am to 11.40, crossing low ironstone
ridges and wide grassy plains, with belts of box, terminalia, white-gum,
and silver-leafed ironbark of small size; the grass very inferior, with
patches of triodia on the ridges; then traversed a level country covered
with small trees and dry grass for two hours, after which we followed a
dry watercourse, with large hollows in its bed, to the north-north-west
for one hour; the shells of large unios abundant, but no water; altered
the course to the east; passed two lines of box-trees crossing the plain
from the south to the north, and at 5.50 p.m. camped in the plain without
water; a strong breeze from the south-east during the day had rendered
the heat less oppressive than usual.
Latitude by Vega 18 degrees 12 minutes 40 seconds; variation of compass 5
THE FLINDERS RIVER.
Left our waterless camp at 6.10 a.m., steering north 50 degrees east
magnetic over a level grassy plain; at 9.40 reached a fine river of fresh
water 100 yards wide, but very shallow; pelicans, ducks, and other
water-fowl were numerous, but very shy and wild; here we camped, although
the grass was very inferior on the immediate banks of the river, the
surface of the soil being very much furrowed by the rain; small fragments
of limestone and a few quartz pebbles have been observed on the surface
of the plain for the past twenty miles, and a dark limestone rock is
exposed in the bed of the river, where it has horizontal stratification;
fragments of flinty slate and trap exist in the gravel of the bed of the
river, which, from its position, must be the Flinders River of the
Latitude by a Aquilae 18 degrees 8 minutes 41 seconds; variation of
compass 4 degrees 20 minutes east.
6.10 a.m. again found us in the saddle, and crossing the right bank
followed it to the south-south-east till 7.20, when it turned to the
south-south-west, and changing our course to the east, passed through a
fine grassy plain for two miles, and entered a level open box-flat, well
grassed, the soil a brown loam; this continued till 2.30 p.m., when we
entered a belt of terminalia, and at 1.0 reached a small watercourse, and
camped at a fine waterhole fifty yards wide and 100 yards long,
apparently deep and permanent water, with open grassy banks; this
waterhole would render a great extent of the fine grassy country around
available for pasturage; in passing through the box forest we observed
several sleeping places which had been constructed by the blacks during
the wet season; they consisted of four stakes two feet high, supporting a
platform of small sticks five feet long and two and a half feet wide;
three to twenty of these frames would be grouped together, and were
frequent till we reached the Gilbert River.
Latitude by Vega 18 degrees 10 minutes 30 seconds.
At 6.20 a.m. steered east for one hour through level box and terminalia
flats, with good grass and brown loam; came to a fine lagoon eighty yards
wide and nearly one mile long; beyond this was a creek with small pools
of water; as it appeared to come from the south-east, we steered in that
direction, but soon receded from it, as its course changed to
south-south-east, and altering our course more to the southward, at noon
came again on the creek, much reduced in size; melaleuca scrub and
triodia growing close to its banks, and only a few shallow pools of
water, nearly dried up, and very little grass; at 12.25 p.m. camped at a
small pool. On the banks of the lagoon passed in the morning large heaps
of mussel-shells showed the spots where, from the vast accumulation, the
blacks had for many centuries camped successively on the same spots, and
a well-beaten footpath along the bank showed that it was a favourite
resort of the aboriginals. The common flies are very troublesome; very
few birds, and no kangaroos have been seen during the last few days'
Latitude by Vega 18 degrees 18 minutes 5 seconds.
The course of the creek being from the south and water very scarce in its
bed, it does not appear that we have yet reached the streams rising in
the high land at the head of the Burdekin and Lynd rivers; it therefore
appeared expedient to steer an east-north-east course till some
stream-bed of sufficient size to retain water at this season can be
found, and then to follow it up to the ranges where alone water can be
expected to be found to enable us to steer to the south-east. At an
earlier season of the year, when water is abundant, it would be more
desirable to ascend the Flinders, and cross from its upper branches to
the head of the Clark; but under present circumstances this course would
be highly imprudent, and no experimental deviations from the most direct
course would be justifiable. The grass being scanty, the horses had
scattered much, and we did not leave the camp till 10.20 a.m., when we
steered east-north-east. A short mile from our camp passed four blacks at
a pool of water; they did not observe us till we had passed, though only
100 yards distant, and the country very open. Our route was through a
level country, wooded with box, bloodwood, terminalia, grevillia, and
broad-leafed melaleuca, triodia, and patches of grass. The soil is a hard
ironstone gravel and clay. Passing several dry beds of shallow lagoons,
came to a small dry watercourse coming from the east; at 12.20 p.m.
camped at a shallow pool of water scarcely four inches deep. Near the
camp were some fine grassy flats, but limited in extent, and the grass
very dry. The cool southerly breezes have ceased, and the north-east and
westerly winds are light and very warm.
Latitude by Vega 18 degrees 14 minutes 25 seconds.
At 8.5 a.m. steered east-north-east through box-flats with broad-leafed
melaleuca, with a little grass. The country gradually became more scrubby
with grevillia, terminalia, bloodwood, and triodia; the soil very poor,
and in some parts sand and gravel. At 2.0 p.m. altered the course to
north, and at 5.50 came to a dry creek in a rocky channel trending west,
which we followed down till 6.15, and camped without water.
14th September (Sunday).
At 5.50 proceeded down the creek on a nearly west course, searching the
channel in its winding course for water, but without success, till 10.0,
when we found a pool of good water fifty yards long and two feet deep, at
which we encamped. Some blacks had been camped at this pool, and their
fires were still burning. The country on the creek is very poor, with
patches of open melaleuca scrub, box, bloodwood, leguminous ironbark,
terminalia, white-gum, and a few pandanus, triodia, and a little very dry
grass. The soil sandstone, with ironstone gravel. The native bee appears
to be very numerous, and great numbers of trees have been cut by the
blacks to obtain the honey.
Latitude by a Aquilae 17 degrees 59 minutes 26 seconds.
LEVEL COUNTRY. SCARCITY OF WATER.
At 8.15 a.m. resumed our journey north 10 degrees magnetic, over a very
level country thinly wooded with box, bloodwood, melaleuca, terminalia,
grevillia, and cotton-trees, also a small tree which we recognised as
Leichhardt's little bread-tree, the fruit of which, when ripe, is mealy
and acid, but made some of the party, who ate it, sick. Several dry
watercourses trending west were crossed, and at 2.5 p.m. camped at a
small waterhole in a sandy creek, fifteen yards wide. By enlarging the
hole we obtained, though with difficulty, a sufficient supply of water
for our horses. On the flats near the creek the grass was good, but very
Latitude by a Aquilae 17 degrees 46 minutes 11 seconds.
Although our horses required a day's rest, none of our camps for some
days had afforded a sufficient supply of water and grass for a second
night; we therefore continued a north 20 degrees east course at 6.25
a.m.; at 7.30 a.m. came to a creek which we followed east an hour and a
half, when it was reduced to a small gully, and again steered
north-north-east, passing over much poor country with patches of
melaleuca scrub, the country perfectly level; at 2.0 p.m. came to a sandy
creek which we followed to the west till 6.5 p.m. without any water;
camped in an open grassy box flat; I then walked down the creek, and was
fortunate in finding a pool of water half a mile distant, and as soon as
the moon rose we drove the horses to the water and filled our
saddle-bags. Few parts of our journey have been through country so
destitute of animal life as the level plain we have traversed since
leaving the Flinders River--no kangaroo or even their track; emu tracks
very rare, and very few birds were at the waterholes. Many of the
sleeping-frames of the blacks have been observed, and thousands of deep
impressions of their feet in the now dry and sun-baked clay show that
during the rainy season the extremely level nature of the country causes
it to be extensively inundated.
The supply of water and grass being sufficient, we remained at this camp
to refresh the horses, which had suffered much from the long stages.
Latitude by Capella 17 degrees 34 minutes 5 seconds; variation of compass
4 degrees 50 minutes east.
Starting at 7.0 a.m., steered north 10 degrees east magnetic till 12.30
p.m., crossing a level country with frequent hollows which form lagoons
in the wet season, reaching a sandy creek with several channels, which we
searched in vain for water; but found a fine lagoon about a quarter of a
mile from it, in a grassy flat, in which we encamped. The country
generally was more open, with grassy box-flats; melaleuca scrubs less
frequent. As this camp appeared suitable for a halt of a few days, I
decided on availing ourselves of the opportunity, and to kill one of the
unserviceable horses and replenish our stock of meat and supply the party
with fresh provisions. Old Boco, who had not carried a pack since leaving
the Albert, and whose wandering and kicking propensities had rendered him
a troublesome animal, was therefore shot, skinned and quartered.
Latitude by a Aquilae 17 degrees 21 minutes 20 seconds; variation of
compass 5 degrees 15 minutes east.
The horse was cut into thin slices and hung on ropes to dry by 10.0 a.m.,
the liver and heart furnishing the party with an excellent dinner.
The night had been cloudy, but the meat dried well, and promised to be
fit to pack the following day, the weather being very hot with little
wind. Reduced the ration of flour to three-quarters of a pound per diem
while fresh meat is abundant.
Resumed our journey at 8.15 a.m. and traversed on a course north 40
degrees east a level plain grassy country thinly wooded with box,
bloodwood, and terminalia, etc. The soil a dark loam of good quality, but
very wet in the rainy season. At 11.30 a.m. came on a large creek or
river with many sandy channels in which only a few small pools of water
remained; followed it up to the east-south-east through fine open grassy
flats till 2.35 p.m. and camped in the bed of the river. The banks of the
river (which is probably the Gilbert of Leichhardt) are well grassed, and
a dense line of melaleuca, leucodendron, flooded-gum, and morinda, mark
its course through the plain; but being divided into many channels its
size is difficult to ascertain. Considerable quantities of mica are mixed
with the soil on its banks, which indicates that it rises in country of
primary formation. Two kangaroos, some wallabies, and pink and
sulphur-crested white cockatoos were seen near the river.
Latitude by a Aquilae 17 degrees 18 minutes 5 seconds.
THE GILBERT RIVER.
Leaving our camp at 7.25 a.m., steered north 120 degrees east across the
plains on the left bank of the river, and at 1.30 p.m. camped at a small
pool in the sandy bed of the Gilbert, which is broad, sandy, and retains
very little water. Fragments of porphyry, quartz, and black slate are
abundant in the drift, and mica, iserine, and minute garnets exist.
Latitude by a Aquilae 17 degrees 25 minutes 50 seconds.
At 7.5 a.m. continued our journey up the river's left bank, the average
course south-east by east; at 2.50 p.m., camped at a small pool in the
bed of the river; the principal channel is 200 yards wide, and the
smaller ones occupy a breadth of half a mile; the banks are low, and the
country quite level, thinly wooded with box-trees; the grass good, but
not thick; water very scarce, except by digging in the sand of the river.
Latitude by a Cygni 17 degrees 36 minutes; variation of compass 5 degrees
At 7.0 a.m. steered south-east, and at 8.0 crossed to the right bank of
the river, the channel 300 yards wide, with banks fifteen feet high,
beyond which the ground gradually declined, so that when the river
overflows a great extent of country must be inundated. Continuing our
course, the river turned more to the south, and we passed through some
poor stunted forest of eucalypti, alternating with grassy box-flats. At
noon altered the course south-south-east, and at 12.30 p.m. camped at a
chain of small lagoons in the shade of some fine nonda-trees.
Latitude by a Aquilae 17 degrees 45 minutes 10 seconds.
At 6.35 a.m. steered south-east through an open melaleuca scrub, the soil
sandy loam, thinly grassed; acacia, bloodwood, silver-leafed ironbark,
and grevillia forming open patches of wood at intervals. At noon turned
south, and at 1.35 p.m. camped at a small lagoon nearly dry and half a
mile from the bank of the river; a few hills rose close to the south-west
of the river opposite our camp, the lower ridges grassy, the higher hills
wooded, but not exceeding 500 feet above the plain. The bed of the river
is broad, dry, and sandy, and the box-flats much reduced in width, seldom
exceeding a mile. At 5.0 p.m. there was a heavy squall with rain and
lightning, followed by a cloudy night and moderate breeze from the south.
At 6.45 a.m. resumed our route, and, following up the right bank of the
river in a south-east direction till 2.0 p.m., when we camped in the
sandy bed of the river, procuring water from a small hole in the sand.
The country on the banks of the river consisted of box flats, some parts
well grassed, but usually very poor; this extended about half a mile, and
then changed gradually to a poor country with little grass and small
eucalypti and melaleuca, the soil gravel and sand. The bed of the river
continues to be about 300 yards wide, dry, and sandy; a line of
melaleuca, morinda, flooded-gum and fig trees, grow along it and mark its
Latitude by a Aquilae 18 degrees 10 minutes 10 seconds; variation of
compass 5 degrees 20 minutes east.
Steered an average south-east course up the river from 6.40 a.m. till 1.0
p.m., when we camped at some pools of water in a side channel of the
river, where it was divided by a hillock of slate-rock. The country is
inferior in quality, the flats narrowing to an average of half a mile
with very dry and thinly scattered tufts of grass. The bed of the river
is better defined, and formed at times a single channel 250 yards wide,
dry and sandy, as water was only once seen during the day. Low rocky
ridges of sandstone gradually approached its banks, and near the camp
porphyry, slate, and coarse granite formed detached hills 50 to 100 feet
high, seeming to indicate an approach to the ranges in which the stream
takes its rise.
Latitude by a Cygni 18 degrees 15 minutes 21 seconds.
GRANITE, PORPHYRY, AND SLATE.
28th September (Sunday).
Walked out from the camp to a low hill about one mile south-south-east.
It was composed of granite at the base and capped with horizontal strata
of sandstone, some of the beds containing large water-worn pebbles, and
the superstratum highly ferruginous. To the south-west of this hill the
rock was slate, the strata nearly vertical; the strike north and south,
but much contorted, and large pebbles of porphyry, quartz, slate,
granite, sandstone, and agate formed banks in the bed of the river. The
country, as seen from the hill, was generally level in appearance, but
consisted of numerous low ridges and detached hills of granite, with
sandstone on the summits. The valley of the river extended to the east
and south, and a large branch appeared to join from the south about ten
miles lower down, as a valley and some ranges of hills trended in that
direction. The whole face of the country had an arid and desolate aspect,
as there were no large trees except along the principal watercourses, and
many of the hills appeared destitute of any other vegetation besides
small acacias and scrub trees, the bare rock showing through its scanty
At 7.15 a.m. again steered east up the river, the country level and
timbered with stringybark, box, bloodwood, leguminous ironbark, and rusty
gum; the soil a red sandy loam, thinly grassed; at 10.30 a.m. came to low
hills and ridges of granite and porphyry, timbered with box, leguminous
ironbark, terminalia, and the grass somewhat improved. Altered the course
at 11.0 a.m. to the south to close in with the river; but after crossing
a great number of dry watercourses, and even steering west, only reached
the bank of the river at sunset. The channel was dry, and all the
vegetation had disappeared, only a barren waste of coarse sand and gravel
180 yards wide, with bare rocky banks, showed that it had once been a
running stream. A few small hollows in the rocks retained water from the
late rain, but not sufficient for our horses, and though we found a small
pool in the sand, it was insufficient for the supply of the party.
Encamped at 6.0 p.m. The geological structure of this portion of the
country is wholly dissimilar to any other part of North Australia we have
yet traversed. Granite, porphyry, and slate are the prevailing rocks. The
whole appear to have been subjected to considerable disturbance, as the
slate is much broken and contorted, and in several parts altered by
contact with the porphyry, and no definite strike or dip appeared to
exist. The porphyry is of a red-brown colour, consisting of grey paste
with crystal of felspar and angular fragments of slate and granite
sometimes one foot in length. The granite contains little mica, and the
quartz frequently is arranged in rhomboidal crystals nearly parallel to
each other; it readily decomposes, and from the predominance of quartz
forms a coarse gritty soil. Quartz-rock forms large beds and veins in the
granite, and has a general trend north and south. It often contains
crystals of mica, and therefore not likely to contain metals. In washing
the sand of the river near Camp 83, only a small quantity of titaniferous
iron remained after the removal of the quartz and mica. It was in this
locality that the Gilbert Gold Field was afterwards discovered.
Latitude by e Pegasi 18 degrees 25 minutes 33 seconds.
Moved the camp about one mile higher up the river to some small pools of
water, and then with Mr. H. Gregory ascended the hills to the south of
the camp. From the highest ridge the course of the river was visible for
nearly twenty miles, trending first seven miles south-south-west and then
south-south-east; at the bend a branch appeared to join from
west-south-west, in which direction the country appeared very flat for
fifteen or twenty miles, as only a few distant hills were visible; from
north round to south-east the country was very broken and hilly, rising
highest to the north-east, but the view was limited to eight or ten
miles; south-east a valley opened through hills, and more distant ranges
were indistinctly seen beyond. The whole aspect of the country was
barren, rock forming the principal feature. Returning to the camp,
collected a quantity of the clustered figs on the bank of the creek; this
fruit is rather insipid.
Steering an average south-south-east course from 7.40 a.m. till 2.40
p.m., camped on the right bank of the river, which first came from
south-west and then from south-east, throwing off two branches to the
south-west, and was thereby diminished to 100 yards wide at our camp;
only one creek and some gullies joined from the east, although the
country in that direction was hilly; the bed of the river was still dry
and sandy; water very scarce. Slate, quartz, schist, granite, and trap
are the principal rocks, and by their decomposition do not produce a soil
favourable to vegetation, the country becoming more desolate as we
advanced. The only trees which retain their verdure are those which grow
on the banks of the river.
Latitude by a Cygni 18 degrees 40 minutes 29 seconds.
RECONNOITRE TO THE EASTWARD.
The river above the camp coming from the south-south-west, it appeared
desirable to pursue a more eastern course, and I therefore started from
the camp at 6.30 a.m., accompanied by Mr. H. Gregory, to reconnoitre the
country, steering east three miles over low slate hills (the strata
dipping 60 degrees to 80 degrees to south by west); ascended a hill from
which a range of hills were seen eight to ten miles to the east of a
creek rising in them and joining the river near the camp to the
east-south-east; at the head of the creek a gap in the hills showed a
more distant range of hills; steering in this direction, came to the
creek with a sandy and rocky bed ten yards wide and perfectly dry;
ascending the range of hills, found them to consist of gneiss, schist,
and slate, trap existing on the lower ridges. A large valley extended
across our course to the east, beyond which a range of flat-topped hills
or tableland bounded the horizon. Descending to the east the country
improved and granite constituted the principal rock, ironbark and a few
box-trees forming an open forest which on some of the ridges was well
grassed; the soil a red loam. At 2.0 p.m. came on a small river with a
dry sandy bed eighty yards wide; following it down to the south found a
small pool of water in a hollow in the sand; here we halted till 3.30,
and then followed the river south-west, south-east, south-west, west, and
south; at 6.10 ascended a hill on the left hand, from which we saw that
the river turned west and north-west, breaking through the hills and
joining the Gilbert River. Having ascertained that we were still on a
western watercourse, we bivouacked near the river without water.
At daybreak steered north-west, crossing several rocky ridges of hills,
and at 2.0 p.m. reached the camp. Nothing of importance had occurred
during our absence; the horses had improved by the two days' rest.
At 7.15 a.m. left the camp, and, following an average east-south-east
course for seven hours, reached the pools found on the 2nd, in the upper
branch of the Gilbert River, and encamped. As this route nearly coincided
with that on the 2nd, nothing was seen worthy of farther notice.
Latitude by a Cygni 18 degrees 47 minutes 54 seconds.
At 6.45 a.m. left the camp and followed up the river in an
east-north-east direction for three miles; water was abundant in the
gullies owing to a heavy shower some days previous. Beyond three miles
the water ceased and the country was dry and parched. Low hills of schist
trap and granite formed a country near the river, and farther back high
ranges bounded the valley; they appeared to be flat-topped and with
horizontal strata of sandstone on the summits. At noon the river had
divided into several small branches, and the character of the country did
not promise the existence of water within the space of a day's journey;
we returned down the river to the last water we had seen, and camped
about three miles north-east of our last camp. As there was little
prospect of finding water again till the range to the east of our present
position was crossed, I decided on reconnoitring the country before
moving the party farther, and as the weather promised to continue fine,
the horse Monkey was shot and skinned preparatory to drying the meat
during my absence.
At 6.5 a.m. left the camp with Mr. H. Gregory, steering nearly east,
crossed the south branch of the river, and reached the base of the higher
range at 9.30; here we found a small spring a quarter of a mile south of
a remarkable hill formed of a single mass of bare rock completely
honeycombed by the action of the atmosphere; ascended the range, which
consisted of porphyry with horizontal sandstone on the summit; we
continued our east course over rocky hills with dry watercourses trending
north; the grass was very thin and dry; and the country was openly wooded
with acacia, eucalypti, cypress, etc., none of which attained a large
size; at 1.30 p.m. halted to rest the horses, and searching among the
rocks in the gullies obtained about three quarts of water by digging; at
2.45 resumed our route, traversing a hilly country, and at 4.15 ascended
a granite hill with sandstone summit, from which the view was very
extensive. Large valleys seemed to join and trend from south to north,
and were bounded by ranges, except to the east, where a level plain or
wide valley extended to the horizon. In the valley a line of green trees
five miles distant marked the course of a creek. Descending the range we
encountered a very rocky country with deep gullies, in one of which we
found a few gallons of water, which our horses consumed. As there was no
grass here, we pushed on till dusk, and bivouacked in a small patch of
grass by the side of a dry gully. The country east of the range is
entirely granitic; grass very scanty, and very thinly wooded with
CROSS A GRANITE RANGE.
Continued an east course at 5.50 a.m., and at 7.50 reached the large
creek, which was 100 yards wide with shallow sandy bed; the banks low and
thinly timbered with ironbark and a few box trees; the soil poor and
sandy, producing little grass. Large casuarina and flooded-gum trees grew
in the channel of the creek, which we followed three miles to the
north-east without finding any water, and only two spots where it could
be procured by digging; we therefore returned up the creek, and dug a
well at the most eligible spot, procuring an abundance of good water; at
2.20 p.m. commenced our return route towards the camp, and following up
the spurs of the range found a practicable route for the pack-horses;
passed the highest point of the range at 6.0, and bivouacked at a small
dry watercourse at 7.15 p.m.
Resumed our route at 6.0 a.m., and deviating to the north of the outward
route, found a small pool of water in a rocky gully, and following it
down a mile came to a pool of sufficient size to supply the whole party.
At 10.30 reached Bowman's Spring at the foot of the range, and by digging
in the moist soil obtained a little water. As we approached the spring a
small party of blacks shouted to us from the summit of one of the hills,
but did not descend to us, though we halted till 12.30 p.m., and then
resumed our route, reaching the camp at 4.0, and found the party all
well; the horse-meat quite dry and fit for carriage. Bowman had also
replaced the shoes on all the horses. The geological character gradually
changes, in consequence of the larger development of the older rocks, as
we proceed to the eastward. At the camp gneiss, porphyry, and trap have
superseded the slates, and proceeding east, granite is visible at the
western base of the range. This is covered by a thick mass of porphyry,
containing large fragments of slate, gneiss and granite in its lower
part, and in its upper portion it has a fine grain and light colour.
Being deeply cracked by vertical fissures, it forms vertical columns of
rhomboidal form, resembling basalt. The summits of the higher hills are
formed by horizontal beds of white sandstone, containing water-worn
pebbles of quartz. Granite supersedes the other rocks as the east slope
of the range is approached, and is there occasionally intercepted by
veins of dark trap.
Proposed to start from the camp at the usual time, but four of the horses
could not be found, and owing to the rocky nature of the country the
tracks were not found till late in the evening, when tracing them some
miles I found them at sunset in a secluded valley.
This morning we were more successful in collecting the horses, and
started from the camp at 6.35 a.m., and steering an easterly course
reached the fate of the range at 10.20 and the summit at noon. Following
our previous track, reached the pool of water at 1.0 p.m. and camped.
Near the camp the xanthorrhoea first made its appearance.
CROSS THE MAIN DIVIDING RANGE.
Leaving the camp at 7.0 a.m., steered an easterly course over somewhat
barren granite country, timbered with cypress and ironbark; passed close
to a hill on the highest point of the range, the summit of which, by
approximate measurement, rose to 2500 feet above the sea. Then following
a spur of the range we reached the well in the sandy creek at 1.5 p.m.
Having cleared out the sand and banked it up with stakes and brushwood, a
plentiful supply of water was obtained at about five feet below the
surface of the dry channel.
Latitude by e Pegasi 18 degrees 45 minutes 53 seconds.
At 7.0 a.m. steered north 60 degrees east over undulating granite
country, timbered with ironbark and box, the grass scanty and very dry;
at 8.45 crossed a large creek coming from the south. Its channel was 100
yards wide, dry, sandy, and a few pools of shallow water; the banks ten
to twenty feet high. Crossing several gullies trending northward, at noon
came on a dry sandy creek, also trending to the north. On its right bank
was a level flat of cellular lava or basalt. Following the course of the
creek, at 1.50 p.m. camped at a fine lagoon a quarter of a mile long and
seventy yards wide, the water appearing to be about ten feet deep,
although unusually low at the present time. A high range of hills exist
to the north of this creek, and the watercourses all trend to the
north-west; and, as our latitude is the same as the Reedy Brook of
Leichhardt on the south-west side of the Valley of Lagoons, it is evident
that these streams do not join the Burdekin, but are tributary to the
Lynd, joining it probably at the southern bend.
Latitude by b Aurigae 18 degrees 38 minutes 12 seconds.
At 6.25 a.m. steered east and traversed a slightly undulating granite
country, with small watercourses trending west-south-west. Ironbark and
box formed an open forest, the soil poor and gritty, with a few patches
of black soil, with blocks of lava on the surface. At 11.15 ascended a
small hill of lava, from which the country appeared very level to the
east. To the north-east large hills rose about twelve miles distant;
ranges also bounded the plain to the south, and some distant summits were
visible to the south-east. Continuing an east course, lava became more
frequent, and at length covered the whole surface. At 2.30 p.m. came on
several streams of lava, forming ridges of rugged rocks, which were
crossed with difficulty. These streams of lava appeared to have run from
north to south, the thickness twenty to thirty feet, and breadth very
variable. The level ground was lightly timbered with ironbark and box. At
5.25 turned to the south-east, following a small gully. Passed a small
native well; but very little water in it, and the rock prevented it being
enlarged. At 6.15 camped near some large rocks, in which five or six
gallons of rainwater had collected. Walking down the creek one and a half
miles in search of water, found two small pools of rainwater; but the
darkness of the night and broken nature of the ground prevented the party
moving to them.
Moved the camp to the waterholes found last night, one and a half miles
down the gully. The country is here granite formation, undulating and
moderately grassed, and wooded with box and ironbark. The day was cloudy,
but cleared at night, and I took sights for time, latitude, and lunar
distance. Chronometer 2287 would not wind up in the morning, and stopped
during the day, but, having run down, wound again without difficulty.
Longitude by lunar distances 144 degrees 33 minutes 15 seconds; latitude
by e Pegasi 18 degrees 41 minutes 38 seconds; variation of compass 5
degrees 50 minutes east.
Resumed our journey at 7.0 a.m., and followed the course of the creek to
the south-east. The north-east side was a plain of lava, and the
south-west consisted of granite ridges with sandstone on the summits.
Several small creeks joined from the south-west, and increased the
principal channel considerably. At 10.0 the country was more level and
openly timbered with box and bloodwood; grass was abundant and green,
owing to heavy rains, which appear to have been accompanied with hail, as
the west-north-west sides of the trees were much bruised and the soil
indented, and a great portion of the leaves torn from the trees. At 1.15
p.m. camped on a small tributary creek. The country appears to be chiefly
granite and mica schist, with thin beds or streams of lava, which have
come from the ranges to the north and advanced to various distances into
the more level land. The surface of the lava is more thinly wooded and
better grassed than the granite; but the roughness of the surface and
scarcity of water rendered it less convenient travelling. From one of the
higher ridges we had a wide but imperfect view of the country. The air
being hazy, only a few of the marked features of the ranges to the north
were visible; to the east a high hill twenty-five miles distant rose
beyond an undulating wooded country. At 6.0 a heavy thunderstorm caused
the creek to run for several hours.
Latitude by Capella 18 degrees 49 minutes 13 seconds.
THE BURDEKIN RIVER. A CAMP OF LEICHHARDT'S.
The rain having passed away, the morning was clear and cool, and at 6.35
a.m. resumed our journey, steering average south-east, crossing the creek
several times, and at 11.0 reached the bank of the Burdekin River, which
had a strong stream of water flowing in its channel, which is here about
100 yards wide, but full of casuarina and melaleuca trees; the banks
steep and cut with deep gullies. Following the river to the south-east,
at 2.0 p.m. camped in a large open grassy flat a mile from the river,
obtaining water from a small pool filled by the rain last night.
Latitude by e Pegasi 18 degrees 57 minutes 48 seconds; variation of
compass 5 degrees east.
At 6.30 a.m. resumed our journey, steering east and south for two hours
over level flats; then turning east crossed a steep range of sandstone
hills, the strata nearly vertical; the strike north and south; thin veins
of quartz intersected the rock in every direction, forming a complete
network. The steepness of the country compelled us to turn north-east to
the bank of the river, which we followed to the south-east; the banks
were high and cut by deep gullies. At 12.30 p.m. the hills receded, and
we entered some fine flats. Here I picked up a fragment of the
shoulder-bone of a bullock, and observed several trees that had been cut
with iron axes; and as the latitude corresponds with that of Dr.
Leichhardt's camp of the 26th April, 1845, the bone doubtless belonged to
the bullock he killed at this place. At 1.5 camped on the bank of the
river. The Moreton-Bay ash, poplar gum, and a rough-barked gum-tree with
very green leaves, were added to the ironbark, bloodwood, and other
eucalypti which constituted the forest, while casuarina and Melaleuca
leucodendron grow in the beds of the larger watercourses. The channel of
the river is about 150 yards, with a small stream winding along the sandy
bed; much of the running water is due to the late rain, but it is evident
from the character of the vegetation that it continues to run throughout
the dry season.
Latitude by a Cygni 19 degrees 37 seconds.
Continued our route at 6.25 a.m., steering nearly east till 8.30, when
the river turned to the north round a range of sandstone hills, crossing
which, reached the river again at 10.5 flowing south, with fine
openly-timbered flats on the banks; steering south till 1.0 p.m., camped
on the bank of the river just below a ridge of slate rock which crossed
the channel. From the hills, at 9.0, we saw a fine valley joining that of
the Burdekin from the east; it was bounded by a steep range to the south,
which terminated two miles from the river. South-west of our position
were several flat-topped hills, which appeared to be a continuation of
the range crossed yesterday. To the south only a few distant hills were
visible, the view being obstructed by trees. The flats on the banks of
the river are well grassed and openly timbered with ironbark, Moreton-Bay
ash, bloodwood, and poplar gum; the soil varying from a soft brown loam
into which our horses sank deeply, to a firm black or brown clay loam;
the ranges were stony and thinly grassed; the timber box and ironbark.
The geological features consist of a fine-grained sandstone
interstratified with slate and coarse conglomerates. The sandstone is
intersected in every direction with veins of quartz, which do not appear
to enter the slate. The dip of the strata is nearly vertical, the strike
north and south. The whole appear to have been much disturbed and
altered; neither granite nor trap has been observed since yesterday
morning. Consumed the last of the dried horse-meat, and increased the
ration of flour to one pound per diem.
19th October (Sunday).
Remained at the camp to rest the party; the day was cloudy, with variable
breeze from the south-east to north-east and north; no observations for
latitude could be taken till early on Monday morning, and even then the
altitudes were imperfect; the stream of running water in the bed of the
river has increased, but is still quite clear.
Latitude by Saturn 19 degrees 7 minutes 19 seconds.
CROSS THE CLARK RIVER.
Resumed our journey at 6.40 a.m., steering south-east through fine grassy
flats till 10.0, when we crossed the Clark River, and altered the course
to east over well-grassed flats, to the foot of a rocky range of
sandstone hills, which we reached at noon, and ascending by a steep spur,
at 2.30 p.m. attained the highest ridge; here sandstone was the
prevailing rock; xanthorrhoea, silver-leafed ironbark, and triodia
constituted the principal vegetation; descending gradually, at 3.30
reached a small creek with a patch of good green grass on its banks, and
at 3.45 halted at some small waterholes, which appeared to be permanent;
except near the creek, the country was poor and stony, with a forest of
ironbark and box trees; the country between the Clark and the Burdekin
appears to be of excellent quality, consisting of well-grassed flats,
timbered with ironbark, Moreton-Bay ash, poplar, gum, and box trees. The
Clark is about 100 yards wide, with a sandy bed crossed by ridges of
slate rock; the banks are sixty to eighty feet high, and the marks of
last year's flood thirty to thirty-five feet, the trees being bent and
broken by the force of the current; more water appears to come down the
Clark during floods, but the Burdekin has a more constant stream, the
Clark containing only shallow pools of water, separated by dry sand and
rock; after leaving the immediate flats of the river the country was very
poor and stony; the late rains had not extended so far, and the grass had
the dry and parched appearance which characterised the country on the
banks of the Gilbert.
Latitude by a Pegasi 19 degrees 14 minutes 2 seconds.
6.15 a.m., resumed our journey and traversed an inferior country of
sandstone and porphyry; box, silver-leafed ironbark, and triodia
characterized the vegetation; in crossing one of these gullies, in which
were some pools of water, Bowman's horse fell over the bank into the
pool, and he got some severe bruises; at 10.15 came on the river, where
it ran over a ledge of rocks forming a succession of rapids, below which
it spread out into a broad sheet of sand a quarter of a mile wide, and
turned to the south. As Bowman had fallen some distance in the rear, I
selected the first suitable spot, and at 11.0 encamped, and shortly after
Mr. H. Gregory came in with Bowman to camp. On the bank of the river we
saw two black gins, who climbed a tree on our approach, and in the
afternoon came to the camp with an old man, and after some unintelligible
conversation departed; they had neither clothes or weapons, except a
throwing-stick of the same form as those used by the blacks of the
southern shore of the Gulf of Carpentaria. The geological character of
the country has been sandstone, much altered by contact with porphyry
which has been forced through it; both dip and strike are confused, and
could not be ascertained to have any general angle or direction, except
in the bed of the river, where the strata dipped 10 degrees to the north,
but in the hills, on the left bank below the camp, the strata was
horizontal; the river is now 150 yards wide at the narrowest parts, a
small stream of water, one foot deep and ten to twenty yards wide,
running in a winding course through the sand, and sometimes expanding
into sheets of water occupying the whole breadth of the channel.
Latitude by a Pegasi 19 degrees 16 minutes 22 seconds.
At 6.15 a.m. steered south and followed the right bank of the river; for
the first hour the country was hilly on both banks, with deep gullies; it
then became more level, and opened into flats, well grassed; the timber
box, ironbark, and Moreton-Bay ash; the soil a light brown loam in some
parts, sandy and very soft from the numerous excavations of the funnel
ant. These flats extended one to two miles back and then rose into low
ridges of poor land, timbered with box and ironbark; crossed a sandy
creek coming from the west, and at 1.30 p.m. camped on the right bank of
the river. A short distance from the camp surprised a black and his gin
and a child; the man climbed a tree and the woman ran off with the child,
leaving a small water vessel, hollowed out of a piece of wood, and a
calabash full of water. The rocks near the last camp were sandstone or
porphyry; in the only exposed section the sandstone dipped to the north 5
degrees to 15 degrees. We also crossed a hill of porphyry which was
remarkable for the regularity of cleavage into thick lamina, which were
vertical, with a north and south strike; but though it had the appearance
of a stratified rock, its structure was perfectly crystalline. About
noon, granite, containing large plates of mica, was observed in some of
Latitude by e Pegasi 19 degrees 29 minutes 43 seconds.
At 7.0 a.m. steered south-south-east and south-east over ridges of
sandstone, timbered with ironbark and thinly grassed, for an hour and a
half; again struck the river and passed at the foot of some limestone
hills and ridges; this limestone contained fragments of shells and coral.
Altering the course to south, traversed fine open flats half a mile to a
mile wide, beyond which the country rose into low ridges of limestone. At
noon basalt appeared covering the limestone and sandstone. The steep
slope which formed the boundary of this rock was very rugged; but the
level surface was covered with black soil and well grassed. At 12.55 p.m.
camped in a fine grassy flat, walled in by steep rocks of basalt. We
experienced some difficulty in watering the horses, as the bank of the
river was so steep that they frequently fell back into the river in
ascending it. The limestone rocks seen on this day's journey appear to
rise from beneath the sandstones, some of which are very hard and
close-grained; it dips about 10 degrees to the west and some of the
adjacent sandstones 20 degrees west, in well-defined strata. The basalt
covers all the other rocks, filling up the former inequalities of the
surface and forming a perfectly level plain; where the softer sandstones
were in contact, they were only baked into a coarse brick-like mass,
which had had much the appearance of having been formed from the alluvial
banks of the river.
Latitude by e Pegasi and a Gruis 19 degrees 42 minutes 10 seconds;
variation of compass 6 degrees 15 minutes east.
DUCKS, GEESE, AND PELICANS.
Leaving our camp at 6.0 a.m., steered south-south-east over well-grassed
basaltic flats, timbered thinly with ironbark, etc.; the soil a red loam.
At 9.0 a.m. came on a large reedy lagoon or swamp with considerable
patches of shallow open water, on which were great numbers of ducks,
geese, pelicans, etc. A broad and deep stream flowed from it to the
south-east, varying from thirty to eighty yards in width, with a thick
belt of reeds along the margin, beyond which the ground rose about fifty
feet to the level surface of the basaltic plain. Following the winding of
the stream till 10.35 a.m., crossed it at a ledge of basaltic rocks, when
it formed a fine rapid with vertical fall of eight to ten feet. Beyond
the running channel a dry sandy creek ran parallel at a distance of 80 to
100 yards from it. Our course was now between the creek and the steep
rocky edge of the basaltic plain, which was too rugged for the horses to
ascend till 11.20 a.m., when, crossing the basalt, we passed to the south
of a shallow lake about half a mile in diameter. The country now became
scrubby, with patches of grass. Altering the course more to the east, we
again entered an open ironbark forest; at 2.0 p.m. crossed a large dry
sandy creek, beyond which the country was poor and sandy, with pandanus
growing on the ridges. On the bank of the creek we observed the marks of
a recent camp of a large party of blacks, and a patch of ground twenty
yards by thirty yards cleared of grass, and the surface scraped up into
ridges, the whole covered with footprints, which showed that some dance
or ceremony had been performed by a large number of men. At 3.30 p.m.
entered a dense scrub of small crooked eucalypti and acacia, with a few
sterculia. After losing an hour in attempting to penetrate the scrub, we
turned north to the dry creek and followed it down till 7.0 p.m., when we
camped near a pool of water; but the night was so dark that the horses
could not be watered with safety, the banks being very steep and rendered
slippery by a slight shower.
The grass having been burnt near the camp, the horses had strayed
considerably, and we did not start till 7.30 a.m., when, turning east, we
soon came on the Burdekin, which now trended to the south-south-west and
south-east; the basalt coming close to the river, we were compelled to
cross a very rough ridge and came on a deep pool of water eighty yards
wide and half a mile long; it terminated in a dry stony channel which
joined a sandy creek, and entered the river. Crossing a granite ridge, we
camped in a fine grassy flat on the bank of the Burdekin, the banks being
high and steep, but the water easy of access.
Latitude by a Pegasi 19 degrees 58 minutes 48 seconds.
26th October (Sunday).
Remained at the camp. During the day there was a succession of showers
without thunder, the clouds and wind from the east. At 10.0 p.m. the rain
ceased, but the night continued cloudy.
GOOD GRASSY COUNTRY.
The morning was cloudy, with light rain till 7.0 a.m.; at 7.30 steered
east-south-east and east over fine grassy ridges of granite and trap
formation, timbered with ironbark, box, Moreton-Bay ash, and bloodwood;
the river taking a sweep to the north of the track, but at 10.40 came
again on its banks. The course was now south till 2.15 p.m., when we
crossed a large stream-bed from the south-west, with a sandy and rocky
bed forty yards wide, which contained a few shallow pools of water. Below
the junction of this tributary the river turned to the east and
east-north-east, and we crossed low ridges of granite porphyry and trap,
which came down from the high land to the bank of the river; at 3.30
encamped. The whole of the country traversed this day was well grassed,
except about a mile of bauhinia scrub, which did not appear of any
considerable extent. Ironbark, box, bloodwood, and Moreton-Bay ash formed
the principal trees with which the country was openly timbered. The
prevailing rock granite, traversed by numerous veins of dark trap, and in
the latter part of the day porphyry and schist appeared; concretions of
limestone were frequent near the trap veins. The soil was somewhat light
and gritty loam, except on the trap-rocks, where it was rich black soil.
The available country here appears more extensive than higher up the
river; more rain has fallen in the early part of the season, and the
grass is rich and green, especially where it had been previously burnt
Latitude by a Pegasi 20 degrees 7 minutes 23 seconds; variation of
compass 6 degrees 20 minutes east.
We resumed our journey at 6.25 a.m., steering an east-south-east course,
but after crossing some fine grassy ironbark ridges, entered a dense
scrub of acacia, sterculia, bauhinia, and thorny shrubs. Turning north,
with some difficulty extricated the party from the scrub, which we then
skirted to the east along the bank of the river till 9.10, when the scrub
receded, and fine openly-timbered ironbark ridges replaced the scrub.
These ridges were well-grassed, the rocks granite, trap, and porphyry.
The country generally appeared well suited for stock; on both sides of
the river no high ranges were visible. At 2.45 p.m. camped on a fine
grassy flat, part of which having been burnt, was now covered with
excellent green grass. The day was cool, with light showers from the
east. The character of the granite was fine-grained, and intersected by
veins and masses of trap, and in the latter part of the day's journey
porphyry was superincumbent. In the scrubs sandstone existed; it was
coarse-grained, and contained worn boulders of trap, quartz, granite,
slate, and hard sandstone.
As the river below turned to the east of its general course, at 6.20 a.m.
steered east-south-east and south-east till 9.30, when we again came on
the river trending south. The country consisted of openly-timbered and
grassy ironbark ridges, but not equally good with that passed during the
last two days. The river at 10.0 turned to the south-east, along the foot
of some steep rocky hills of porphyry resting on granite, and at 11.45
was joined by a dry creek twenty yards wide, coming from the south-west;
our course was now east-south-east, passing with difficulty between the
river and a steep granite hill, beyond which the country became more
sandy, and rose to the south in long gentle slopes scantily grassed, and
timbered with bloodwood, ironbark, Moreton-Bay ash, and poplar gum, with
a few pandanus; an immense number of deep gullies intersected the ground,
cutting deeply into the granite rock beneath the soil, and rendering it
difficult to traverse. A fine range of openly-wooded and grassy hills
rose about two to three miles from the left bank of the river, attaining
an elevation of 500 to 800 feet above the valley; these hills are
probably porphyritic; they are the Porter Range of Leichhardt. At 2.45
p.m. camped on the bank of the Burdekin River.
THE SUTTOR RIVER. MOUNT MCCONNELL.
At 6.30 a.m. steered north 120 degrees east, but at 7.0 a.m. came on the
river trending south, the country gradually became more rugged, and rocky
hills closed in on both banks forming a deep gorge through which the
river forced its way. By keeping at the back of some hills we avoided
much of the rocky ground, crossing at noon a high ridge, from which the
view extended to the junction of the Burdekin and Suttor Rivers, Mount
McConnell bearing 159 degrees magnetic, and the west end of Porter Range
334 degrees magnetic. A long range seemed to extend south from Robey
Range, and bound the valley of the Upper Burdekin, while a high range
appeared to trend north-east from the eastern side of the Suttor Valley,
and to turn the Burdekin to the north of east. Continuing our route
nearly south-east over steep rocky ridges, we encamped in a fine grassy
flat, a quarter of a mile from the Suttor River, at 1.50 p.m., Mount
McConnell bearing north 172 degrees east magnetic. About 10.0 a.m. we
heard some blacks calling in our rear, and soon after came in sight, but
would not allow any of the party to approach them, till one of the
horsemen cantering up quickly, some of the blacks climbed into trees,
where, after making signs to them that it was desirable that they should
pursue an opposite route to ours, we left them to descend at leisure. The
country passed this day was of a broken character, with deep gullies and
rocky hills near the river, but was generally well grassed and openly
timbered with ironbark and Moreton-Bay ash. Granite rock forms the base
of the hills, and was covered by masses of porphyry, forming hills with
rocky summits of columnar structure, as at the head of the Gilbert River
a dark-coloured trap changing into porphyry formed some of the lower
ridges, and was largely developed on the bank of the Suttor. Thin veins
of calcareous spar and quartz intersected the granite. The bed of the
Burdekin where we last saw it, one mile above the junction of the Suttor,
was about half a mile wide with a stream of water varying from twenty
yards wide to the whole breadth of the channel, which was very level and
sandy. The Suttor is but a small river compared with the Burdekin. Near
the camp it formed some fine reaches of water 180 yards wide, but of no
great depth. The trees on its banks were much broken and bent by a
violent flood which had occurred within the year. Considering the number
of miles we have travelled along the banks of the Burdekin, few
impediments have been encountered, while the extent of country suited for
squatting purposes is very considerable--water forming a never-failing
stream throughout the whole distance.
Latitude by a Gruis and a Pegasi 20 degrees 36 minutes 20 seconds;
variation of compass 70 degrees east.
THE FIRST BRIGALOW SCRUB.
A rainy night was followed by a thick fog in the morning, so that when we
started at 6.30 a.m. it was with difficulty the deep gullies on the banks
of the Suttor were avoided; steering south-west for one hour, crossed to
the right bank of the Suttor, and then by an average south course passed
to the west of Mount McConnell, which, by its isolated character and
height (about 600 feet above the river) forms a very conspicuous
landmark. It is wooded to the summit, and has fine patches of grass on
the slopes, with cliffs of porphyry near the upper part, this being the
prevailing rock; on the right bank white shaly rocks and dark trap, with
veins of calcareous spar and limestone, prevailed on the left bank of the
Suttor; the country on both sides well grassed and openly timbered with
ironbark. The bed of the river was very irregular and sandy, with small
shallow pools of water at intervals; at 11.0 the river came from the
south-west, but continuing a south course we crossed some fine basaltic
plains, covered with fine grass and separated by open box forest; at noon
crossed a sandstone hill, the base of which was porphyry; traversing
ironbark ridges for an hour, we crossed a sandy creek coming from the
east, and at 1.0 p.m. encountered the first brigalow scrub; through this
scrub we steered south-west till 3.40, and camped on a small dry creek
with a narrow grassy flat; water was obtained from a small gully where it
had lodged during a shower on the previous night. The country till we
reached the brigalow scrub was well adapted for pastoral purposes; the
rock trap, slate, and porphyry, with veins of limestone. The brigalow
scrub grows on the detritus of a coarse conglomerate, the larger boulders
of which lay scattered over the surface of the ground; these boulders
consist of trap, porphyry, sandstone, and quartz, and show marks of being
water-worn. A range of hills, apparently sandstone, bounds the valley to
the east from three to seven miles from the river. They have no great
elevation, and we did not obtain a good view of them from any point.
Latitude by Capella 20 degrees 52 minutes 25 seconds.
The horses had strayed so far into the scrub in search of grass that it
was 9.40 a.m. before they were collected and saddled; we then steered
south-west through the scrub, which gradually became more open, and at
11.15 we again reached the river coming from the south-south-east; it
gradually turned to south and south-south-west; two creeks joined the
river from the east, but neither of any importance; the brigalow scrub
came close to the bank of the river, only leaving a narrow flat open; the
west side of the river we could see but little, except that it consisted
of wooded ridges and scrub to the east at a distance of one to three
miles; rocky hills of moderate height existed, and from their flat tops
and red cliffs near the summit, evidently consisted of sandstone in
horizontal strata; sandstone was also exposed near the river with a dip
of 30 degrees to the south; at 3.30 camped on the right bank of the
Suttor, where a fine grassy plain extended about a mile back, and was
covered with beautiful green grass; water was abundant, as the river had
been running during the past week and had filled the hollows in the
channel, though it had now ceased to flow; the bed is very irregular, and
consists of three to six channels, which separate and rejoin so as to
form a complete network, with occasional isolated hollows. Being free
from scrub, the bed of the river was good travelling ground, large
flooded-gum trees and melaleuca-trees affording an agreeable shade.
Latitude by a Pegasi 21 degrees 4 minutes 43 seconds.
2nd November (Sunday).
Grass and water being abundant, we enjoyed a day's rest. Several
cockatoos were shot; they are similar in colour and form to the
sulphur-crested cockatoos of the Victoria and Gulf of Carpentaria, but
much larger in size.
IRON TOMAHAWKS USED BY THE NATIVES.
Leaving the camp at 6.35 a.m., followed the river in a southerly
direction till 11.0, when it turned to the east, and we ascended a
sandstone hill; from the summit there was a fine view of the surrounding
country. To the east several distant peaks and hills were visible, the
most remarkable north 86 degrees east magnetic; to the south a low range
about thirty miles distant, with one large peaked hill, bounded the
horizon, the intervening country being very level and apparently covered
with scrub. To the west the valley was bounded by low hills of sandstone.
Although ironbark ridges are frequent, the general character of the
country is very scrubby, and this combined with the scarcity of water
will render it unsuitable for pastoral purposes. Descending the hill,
steered south-east, crossed a fine basaltic plain, and entered open
brigalow scrub, and at 2.0 p.m. again came on the Suttor River, which had
completely altered its character, now consisting of level grassy flats
with uncertain limits and intersected by long waterholes, which were
mostly dry; the general course from south-south-west; at 3.30 camped at a
fine waterhole. Two miles below the camp we surprised some blacks, who
decamped into the scrub. The country along the river consists of open
flats, thinly grassed and interspersed with patches of saltbush
(atriplex), and openly timbered with box and flooded-gum, while ironbark,
box and brigalow prevail over the rest of the country. The marks of iron
tomahawks are frequent where the blacks have been cutting honey or
opposums out of the hollow branches of the trees.
Latitude by a Pegasi 21 degrees 22 minutes 43 seconds; variation of
compass 6 degrees 50 minutes east.
Steering south-west from 7.40 a.m. till 8.5, the river turned suddenly to
the south-east, and, changing our course to 170 degrees, traversed an
open brigalow scrub with several shallow channels winding through it in
an irregular manner. At 10.30 again came on the principal channel of the
river, which was running, and very muddy from the effect of recent rains
in the upper part of its course. The banks are very low, and the country
so level that the floods must frequently extend more than a mile back
into the scrub, which comes close to the bank on both sides. Box and
flooded-gum trees grow along the larger channels, and sometimes box flats
extend into the scrub. We now followed the river south-south-west,
through a level country covered with dense brigalow scrub, passing only
one low rocky hill, on the left bank, at 11.20. At 2.15 p.m. the river
diverged to the eastward, and the course was altered to south. The
country was more open, and at 3.0 encamped on one of the side channels of
the river in a fine grassy box flat.
Latitude by a Pegasi 21 degrees 38 minutes 49 seconds.
Steering south-east for one mile, reached the main channel of the river,
which was followed south. Crossing to the right bank at 7.20 a.m., at
9.15 a dense brigalow scrub forced us south-west, and again came to the
river at 10.30. A south course was then followed till 1.0 p.m.; then
south-east till 4.0; then followed the river south-south-east till 4.50,
and camped on a large grassy flat. The whole of the country is very level
and covered with dense brigalow scrubs, except one sandy plain, on which
triodia was more abundant than grass. Having now passed the latitude of
Sir T. Mitchell's last camp on the Belyando, and thus connected his route
with that of Dr. Leichhardt, I considered it unnecessary to follow the
river further, and decided on taking a south-easterly route to Peak Downs
and the Mackenzie River.
Latitude by a Pegasi 21 degrees 57 minutes 45 seconds.
At 6.30 a.m. crossed the Belyando, and steered south through brigalow
scrubs till 9.0; then entered a box and Moreton-Bay ash flat, in which
was a small gully with rainwater, near which a camp of blacks was
observed; but they ran into the scrub on our approach. At 9.30 changed
the course to south-east towards some rocky hills, which were reached at
11.0. From this we saw several distant ranges to the westward; but the
intervening twenty to forty miles was very flat. The route was now over
scrubby sandstone hills for three hours, and then descended into an open
flat, with box, bloodwood, and Moreton-Bay ash, triodia, and grass
growing on a sandy loam. At 3.30 p.m. camped at a pool of rainwater in a
small creek. In crossing the sandstone range we had a view of some high
peaks twenty to thirty miles distant to the south-south-east; but to the
east the country was quite level.
Latitude by a Pegasi 22 degrees 13 minutes 10 seconds.
Started at 6.5 a.m., steering south-east; the whole country appeared
perfectly level with brigalow scrub and patches of open sandy country,
producing triodia and a little grass; the timber Moreton-Bay ash and box.
Towards noon the country was more open. At 1.30 p.m. passed a shallow
pool of rainwater at the edge of a scrub. About a mile further on
Melville's horse fell, and so bruised his rider that we had to return to
the water and camp.
Latitude by a Pegasi 22 degrees 23 minutes 36 seconds.
The water being exhausted, the party had to move on in search of a
further supply where we could halt until Melville had recovered from his
injuries. Steering south-east for one hour, came to a fine creek with
grassy flats and a stream of muddy water, indicating that there had been
heavy rain in the ranges to the south. Having camped, we shot the filly,
which was now eleven months old, cut the flesh into slices and hung it up
to dry in the sun during the day and over a charcoal fire at night. The
skin was cleared of hair, and was thus made into a species of gelatine,
from which excellent soup was subsequently prepared. The saddlery had
become much worn by passing through the scrubs, and the party was fully
employed in repairs and shoeing the horses, many of which were very lame
from injury among the fallen timber.
9th November (Sunday).
Melville somewhat better, but scarcely able to walk. The meat drying
Latitude by a Pegasi 22 degrees 26 minutes 16 seconds.
At 7.40 a.m. left the camp and followed the creek up for an hour
south-south-east; then steered south-east through brigalow scrub, which
gradually changed to open ironbark and box flats well grassed. At 2.0
p.m. came to broken country covered with a dense scrub of acacia and
ironbark, deep gullies intersecting the country in every direction; at
3.30 ascended a ridge of mica schist, from which a high range was seen
twenty miles to the south-east, but the scrub was so dense that the view
was imperfect. Followed a gully, which changed from south round to
north-west till 5.15, when we camped at a small pool of rainwater. There
were good grassy flats along the watercourse, but the hills were covered
with scrub. It is evident that we are now approaching the watershed of
the Fitzroy River, and hope soon to emerge from the vast tract of scrub
which occupies the valley of the Suttor River. On the plain we observed
that more than half the box-trees had died within the last three years,
and that they had not been killed by bush fires, as the old timber which
lay on the ground was not scorched.
Latitude by a Andromedae 22 degrees 42 minutes 13 seconds.
Leaving the camp at 6.30 a.m., steered south-east over ironbark ridges of
very scrubby character with open grassy valleys; the ridges increased in
height, and at 11.0, having reached the most elevated summit, got a view
of Peak Range about thirty miles to the north-east; to the north-west the
view was obscured by wooded ranges, but from north to east-south-east the
country consisted of low-wooded ridges for ten miles, beyond which fine
open grassy plains extended from east-north-east to east, along the foot
of Peak Range. Descending from the range, followed a small watercourse
east-south-east for two hours, and then north-east, and at 2.30 p.m.
encamped in a fine grassy flat with a small pool of rainwater in a gully,
the larger creek being dry. The country generally consists of low ridges
of schist, which, by decomposition, forms a gravelly loam, the gravel
being derived from the quartz veins which intersect the schist in all
directions. The forest consists of ironbark and acacia; grass everywhere
abundant. Many of the horses are very lame from the splinters of dead
wood in the scrub, and some have to be relieved entirely of their loads.
Latitude by a Pegasi 22 degrees 48 minutes 17 seconds; longitude by lunar
distances 147 degrees 30 minutes 30 seconds.
At 7.25 a.m. steered north 110 degrees east, over grassy ironbark ridges,
with small watercourses trending north; at 11.0 entered a dense brigalow
scrub with a few Moreton-Bay ash-trees, the soil very poor and derived
from the decomposition of a coarse conglomerate; small watercourses
trending to the south. At 12.45 p.m. emerged from the scrub into open box
forest, with limestone and quartz gravel, and a soft black soil producing
rather dry scanty grass. At 1.45 entered a well-grassed plain with
limestone ridges covered with bottle-tree scrub; the grass was good at
this season, green but much mixed with salsola; the summits of Peak Range
showed well above the ridges, and from the cliff around the tops seem to
be capped with sandstone or more probably porphyry. There being little
prospect of finding water in an easterly direction, at 4.0 altered the
course to south-east; a heavy squall and thunderstorm brought some rain,
but it was all immediately absorbed by the hot dry soil, at 5.0 came to a
watercourse trending south, followed it till 6.30, and camped without
water; about a mile north from the camp saw a small box-tree marked AB,
and near it a large sheet of bark which had been cut about two years
Latitude by Saturn 23 degrees 18 seconds.
Resumed the journey at 6.20 a.m., steering south down the watercourse; at
7.0 saw some blacks, who, when asked by signs where water could be found,
pointed down the creek and into the scrub; at 9.20 came to a pool of
rainwater and camped. This part of the country is very poor and scrubby,
with large Moreton-Bay ash trees, the soil formed by the decomposition of
sandstone and conglomerate, with intervals of schist and trap-rock.
CROSS THE PEAK DOWNS.
At 6.50 a.m. steered south-east; we soon entered a grassy plain with
ironbark ridges and belts of acacia scrub, trap, and limestone on the
plains, and sandstone on the ridges; at noon passed a belt of cypress and
entered extensive open downs covered with beautiful green grass.
Following a shallow watercourse, passed some blacks at a distance, and at
4.20 p.m. came to a small pool of rainwater, and camped. The country to
the north-east appeared level, and the grassy downs apparently extend to
the foot of Peak Range. To the south-west it appeared to be a fine open
country for three to eight miles, and then rose into wooded hills of
moderate elevation, at the base of which a creek appeared to run to the
south-east. If this part of the country were well supplied with water it
would form splendid stations for the squatter; but from its level
character and geological structure, permanent surface-water is very
scarce, and where it does exist it is surrounded by scrubby
country, which renders it almost unavailable.
THE MACKENZIE RIVER.
At 6.40 steered east-south-east and soon entered an open acacia scrub
with some grassy patches; the soil a fine black loam; limestone, trap,
and quartz-pebbles occurring on the surface in the open plain; at 9.0
entered a fine box flat, and passed some pools of water; the flat
extending east three miles; then entered a scrubby tract of country, the
soil a black mould with much salsola growing even in the thick scrub; at
11.0 came on a fine creek from the north with pools of permanent water
(Crinum Creek), but the banks covered with scrub. Changing the course to
south-east, at 12.20 p.m. came to a fine river with high grassy banks and
several deep channels which were now full of water and running in
consequence of the late rains. It had been slightly flooded this season,
and the previous year had risen twenty-five feet above the present level.
This river is the Mackenzie of Leichhardt. The course of the river is to
the east-south-east, and we crossed to the right bank without much
difficulty, the bottom being firm and the bank sandy; followed the river
till 2.40, and camped. The country on the banks of the Mackenzie is
scrubby, with occasional open flats; the timber box, with good grass. The
little lemon-tree was in full bearing, and though the fruit is only half
an inch in diameter, was excellent eating when boiled with sugar. The day
was cool and cloudy, and it rained lightly for some hours during the
Latitude by Procyon 23 degrees 28 minutes 19 seconds.
16th November (Sunday).
Remained at the camp. The morning was cool and cloudy, but cleared
towards noon, and at night got sights for latitude.
Resumed our journey at 6.40 a.m. Followed the Mackenzie south-east
through level country with much scrub till 9.25 a.m., when we crossed a
large creek from the south, which proved to be the Comet River of Dr.
Leichhardt. The whole bed of the Comet did not exceed seventy yards, and
the smaller channel only five to six yards wide, and even below its
junction the Mackenzie only had a channel ten to thirty yards wide in the
bottom of a bed 150 yards wide from bank to bank. Just below the junction
of the Comet we found the remains of a camp of Dr. Leichhardt's party on
its second journey. The ashes of the fire were still visible, and a
quantity of bones of goats were scattered around. A large tree was marked
DIG arrow pointing down L
but a hollow in the ground at the foot of the tree showed that whatever
had been deposited had long since been removed. We, however, cleared out
the loose earth, but found nothing. The river now turned east-north-east,
and our course being east, we receded from it, and at noon we ascended a
rocky hill of sandstone covered with scrub; we therefore steered north
for an hour and came to the Mackenzie, and encamped in a fine grassy
flat, but beyond the immediate flats of the river the country was covered
with scrub. Near the camp a large flooded-gum tree had been marked:
Solid square [symbol ??]
some years before. The day was cloudy with easterly breeze. Marked a
120 solid Delta
this being the 120th camp since starting from the Victoria River.
Rain commenced at 7.0 a.m. and continued till noon; at 6.25 steered east
and soon entered a dense scrub of acacia, box, sterculia, and Moreton-Bay
ash. Ascending to the level tableland by a steep sandstone slope, at
11.25 passed a gully with deep waterholes which appeared permanent, and
at 1.40 p.m. encamped at a deep creek with a small pool of water. To the
south-east of the camp about five miles distant a range of hills rose
abruptly from the level country to a height of 800 to 1000 feet. The
summits were flat and surrounded by high cliffs of red sandstone
Latitude by Procyon 23 degrees 33 minutes 40 seconds; variation of
compass 7 degrees 50 minutes east.
Resumed our route at 6.30 a.m.; steered east through dense scrubs with
open patches of grassy forest, the soil a light loam, very sandy in the
open forest. Small watercourses trended north; at 10.0 turned to
south-east to avoid a large scrubby hill which lay detached from the
principal range; at 11.0 again steered east, ascending a steep sandstone
hill from which the country to the north and east appeared extremely
level, we then crossed a series of ironbark ridges with scrub at
intervals, and fine flooded-gum and box flats in the valleys; casuarina
and cypress grew on some of the ridges, but the country generally was
well grassed; at 3.30 p.m. encamped at a small pool of water in a shallow
watercourse trending north-east.
Latitude by Saturn 23 degrees 37 minutes 23 seconds.
At 7.40 a.m. steered east over open country, thinly timbered with box and
ironbark; at 10.0 crossed a dry creek, on the banks of which were recent
tracks of horses and cattle; at noon there was a heavy thunderstorm, and
at the same time entered a dense scrub of brigalow and casuarina; at 2.0
p.m. the country was more open, and at 4.10 camped near a small gully
with pools of rainwater; heavy rain during the night.
Continued an east course; at 6.50 a.m. crossed some wooded ridges, from
which ranges of hills were imperfectly seen about twelve miles to the
east; descending the ridges, entered a brigalow scrub, and at 11.40 came
to the Dawson River, about eighty yards wide, with long shallow pools of
water, the scrub coming close to the bank on both sides, leaving a narrow
grassy flat; followed the river upwards to the southward till 2.50 p.m.,
and camped on the left bank of the river. The flats on the bank of the
river are here much wider and well grassed, and we observed the tracks of
REACH THE FIRST STATION ON THE DAWSON RIVER.
At 6.15 a.m. resumed our route up the river south-east, and at 8.0 came
to a dray-track, which was followed east-north-east two miles to Messrs.
Connor and Fitz' station, where we met with a most hospitable reception.
Latitude by Procyon 23 degrees 51 minutes 15 seconds.
The party having thus reached the occupied country travelled by the
dray-tracks past Mr. Hay's station Rannes, on the 25th November, and
thence by Rawbelle, Boondooma, Tabinga, Nanango, Collinton, Kilkoy,
Durandur, and Cabulture stations, reached Brisbane on the 16th December,
1857. NEW SOUTH WALES LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY.
DR. LEICHHARDT, PROPOSED EXPEDITION IN SEARCH OF.
ORDERED BY THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY TO BE PRINTED, 28TH OCTOBER, 1857.
PROCEEDINGS OF THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL ON THE 14TH SEPTEMBER, 1857, WITH
RESPECT TO AN EXPEDITION IN SEARCH OF DR. LEICHHARDT.
MINUTE NUMBER 57-44.
His Excellency the Governor-General, at the instance of the Honourable
the Colonial Secretary, brings under the consideration of the Council a
proposal which has been made to organise another Expedition to ascertain,
if possible, beyond doubt, the fate of Dr. Leichhardt, who left Sydney
some nine years ago with the intention of exploring the north-western
interior of Australia. This proposal has its origin in a public meeting,
held in Sydney on the 11th instant, at which resolutions were passed
invoking the assistance of the Government, and it is recommended to
favourable consideration at the present moment by the circumstance that
Mr. Gregory, who recently returned from a successful exploration in the
same direction, has intimated his willingness to undertake the conduct of
the proposed Expedition.
2. The Council express themselves desirous of seizing so favourable an
opportunity of pursuing this inquiry, and they therefore advise that Mr.
Gregory should be at once invited to submit, for approval, a definite
proposal having for its object: 1st, to ascertain the fate of the late
Dr. Leichhardt; and, 2nd, to connect the exploring surveys of Mitchell
and Kennedy with his own; such proposal to be accompanied by an estimate
of the probable expense which it will be necessary to incur.
EDWARD C. MEREWETHER,
Clerk of the Council.
Executive Council Office,
Sydney, 22 September, 1857.
A.C. GREGORY, ESQUIRE, TO THE COLONIAL SECRETARY.
Sydney, 15 September, 1857.
Adverting to your verbal communication of yesterday, with reference to
the proposed Expedition in search of traces of Dr. Leichhardt, I have the
honour to furnish a memorandum of the arrangements I would suggest for
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