Australia Twice Traversed, by Ernest Giles

Note to the Second Expedition.

In a former part of my narrative I mentioned, that so soon as I had informed my kind friend Baron von Mueller by wire from the Charlotte Waters Telegraph Station, of the failure and break up of my expedition, he set to work and obtained a new fund for me to continue my labours. Although the greatest despatch was used, and the money quickly obtained, yet it required some months before I could again depart. I reached Adelaide late in January, 1873, and as soon as funds were available I set to work at the organisation of a new expedition. I obtained the services of a young friend named William Henry Tietkins — who came over from Melbourne to join me — and we got a young fellow named James Andrews, or Jimmy as we always called him. I bought a light four-wheeled trap and several horses, and we left Adelaide early in March, 1873. We drove up the country by way of the Burra mines to Port Augusta at the head of Spencer's Gulf, buying horses as we went; and having some pack saddles on the wagon, these we put on our new purchases as we got them.

Before I left Adelaide I had instructed Messrs. Tassie & Co., of Port Augusta, to forward certain stores required for our journey, which loading had already been despatched by teams to the Peake. We made a leisurely journey up the country, as it was of no use to overtake our stores. At Beltana Mr. Chandler had got and kept my black boy Dick, who pretended to be overjoyed to see me, and perhaps he really was; but he was extra effusive in his affection, and now declared he had been a silly young fool, that he didn't care for wild blacks now a bit, and would go with me anywhere. When Mr. Chandler got him he was half starved, living in a blacks' camp, and had scarcely any clothes. Leaving Beltana, in a few days we passed the Finniss Springs Station, and one of the people there made all sorts of overtures to Dick, who was now dressed in good clothes, and having had some good living lately, had got into pretty good condition; some promises must have been made him, as when we reached the Gregory, he bolted away, and I never saw him afterwards.

The Gregory was now running, and by simply dipping out a bucketful of water, several dozens of minnows could be caught. In this way we got plenty of them, and frying them in butter, just as they were, they proved the most delicious food it was possible to eat, equal, if not superior, to whitebait. Nothing of a very interesting nature occurred during our journey up to the Peake, where we were welcomed by the Messrs. Bagot at the Cattle Station, and Mr. Blood of the Telegraph Department. Here we fixed up all our packs, sold Mr. Bagot the wagon, and bought horses and other things; we had now twenty packhorses and four riding ditto. Here a short young man accosted me, and asked me if I did not remember him, saying at the same time that he was “Alf.” I fancied I knew his face, but thought it was at the Peake that I had seen him, but he said, “Oh no, don't you remember Alf with Bagot's sheep at the north-west bend of the Murray? my name's Alf Gibson, and I want to go out with you.” I said, “Well, can you shoe? can you ride? can you starve? can you go without water? and how would you like to be speared by the blacks outside?” He said he could do everything I had mentioned, and he wasn't afraid of the blacks. He was not a man I would have picked out of a mob, but men were scarce, and as he seemed so anxious to come, and as I wanted somebody, I agreed to take him. We got all our horses shod, and two extra sets of shoes fitted for each, marked, and packed away. I had a little black-and-tan terrier dog called Cocky, and Gibson had a little pup of the same breed, which he was so anxious to take that at last I permitted him to do so.

Our horses' loads were very heavy at starting, the greater number of the horses carrying 200 pounds. The animals were not in very good condition; I got the horse I had formerly left here, Badger, the one whose pack had been on fire at the end of my last trip. I had decided to make a start upon this expedition from a place known as Ross's Water-hole in the Alberga Creek, at its junction with the Stevenson, the Alberga being one of the principal tributaries of the Finke. The position of Ross's Water-hole is in latitude 27° 8´ and longitude 135° 45´, it lying 120 to 130 miles in latitude more to the south than the Mount Olga of my first journey, which was a point I was most desirous to reach. Having tried without success to reach it from the north, I now intended to try from a more southerly line. Ross's Water-hole is called ninety miles from the Peake, and we arrived there without any difficulty. The nights now were exceedingly cold, as it was near the end of July. When we arrived I left the others in camp and rode myself to the Charlotte Waters, expecting to get my old horse Cocky, and load him with 200 pounds of flour; but when I arrived there, the creek water-hole was dry, and all the horses running loose on the Finke. I got two black boys to go out and try to get the horse, but on foot in the first place they could never have done it, and in the second place, when they returned, they said they could not find him at all. I sent others, but to no purpose, and eventually had to leave the place without getting him, and returned empty-handed to the depot, having had my journey and lost my time for nothing.

There was but poor feed at the water-hole, every teamster and traveller always camping there. Some few natives appeared at the camp, and brought some boys and girls. An old man said he could get me a flour-bag full of salt up the creek, so I despatched him for it; he brought back a little bit of dirty salty gravel in one hand, and expected a lot of flour, tea, sugar, meat, tobacco, and clothes for it; but I considered my future probable requirements, and refrained from too much generosity. A nice little boy called Albert agreed to come with us, but the old man would not allow him — I suppose on account of the poor reward he got for his salt. A young black fellow here said he had found a white man's musket a long way up the creek, and that he had got it in his wurley, and would give it to me for flour, tea, sugar, tobacco, matches, and clothes. I only promised flour, and away he went to get the weapon. Next day he returned, and before reaching the camp began to yell, “White fellow mukkety, white fellow mukkety.” I could see he had no such thing in his hands, but when he arrived he unfolded a piece of dirty old pocket handkerchief, from which he produced — what? an old discharged copper revolver cartridge. His reward was commensurate with his prize.

The expedition consisted of four members — namely, myself, Mr. William Henry Tietkins, Alfred Gibson, and James Andrews, with twenty-four horses and two little dogs. On Friday, the 1st of August, 1873, we were prepared to start, but rain stopped us; again on Sunday some more fell. We finally left the encampment on the morning of Monday, the 4th.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 19:14