July 18. — Having loaded the horses, we started at eight o’clock this morning, in good hope and high spirits, rejoicing to have got rid of one great impediment to our progress. The blacks regarded us with curious interest as we proceeded on our way, forming a train of twenty-six horses, followed by the sheep, and Mitchell occasionally sounding a horn he had brought with him.
We all felt the inconvenience of leaving the carts behind, and I in particular. I was now obliged to make two strong bags to fit my specimen boards, and to hang them, over a horse’s back, one bag on each side, a very inconvenient method, as it rendered them liable to much damage going through the scrub. The sheep at this time had grown very thin and poor, not averaging more than thirty pounds when skinned and dressed; they had, however, become so habituated to following the horses that they cost us very little trouble in driving them.
After travelling about six miles through open forest land we camped near a creek on the skirts of a thick scrub.
July 19. — We were cutting through scrub all day, skirting numerous small creeks which we met with here, most of them running to the eastward. The soil was rather stiff, and indicated a rocky formation, blocks of granite projecting from it in various directions.
July 20, 21, and 22. — During these three days we travelled over an irregular, mountainous country, intersected by numerous creeks, running in all directions, but all of them with belts of scrub on each side. We sometimes crossed the same creeks two or three times a day, owing to the tortuous directions they took, and our clothes were kept wet all the day; some of them too had very steep banks, which presented another obstacle to the progress of our horses. Between the creeks, small patches of open forest land intervened, with large blocks of rock scattered over them; most of the creeks had a rocky bottom, and were running to the eastward.
July 23. — Sunday, we had prayers read as usual at eleven o’clock, and halted for the day.
July 24. — We resumed our journey through the same description of country, cutting through scrub, and occasionally travelling through open land, timbered principally with Moreton Bay ash, box, and flooded gum, and covered with very long grass. We crossed two creeks running to the northward, on the side of the last of which we camped. We were here compelled to shoot one of our horses, which had fallen lame. During the week we had made very little progress, being forced to turn in every direction to avoid the deep gulleys, and the scrub which invariably prevailed in the bends of the creeks. A tribe of natives visited us at this camp, and appeared very friendly; they did not stop with us long. I saw today several trees of the “white apple,” as we called it, and which I have before described.
July 25. — We entered the scrub on the side of the creek, and proceeded along its banks with difficulty, being obliged to cut our way through, but it grew less dense after we had skirted the creek a short distance.
We found the creek to be the branch of a river, which here divided-one branch running to the south-east (by which we had camped yesterday)— the other running east. It is rocky, and shallow where it divides, but grows deeper in its course towards the coast. It is about two hundred yards wide, and its banks are overhung with trees on each side. After following it about a mile up, it grew much more shallow and narrow, and had a rocky bottom.
On the opposite side were patches of open forest ground, but they did not extend to any distance. After skirting the river about three miles, we crossed it in a shallow place, the bed of it being composed of blocks of water-worn granite.
The impediment offered by these blocks rendered it very difficult for our horses to pass, although the water was only from one to three feet deep. Several of the horses fell in crossing this river; the one carrying my specimens fell three times, and my specimens and seeds received much damage, if they were not entirely spoiled.
The river here runs from the north-west. We crossed it and entered the scrub, but not being able to get through it before dark, we tied our horses to trees, and slept by them all night.
July 27. — We were cutting through scrub nearly all day, and having recrossed the river, cut our way to the top of a high hill, which we could not avoid. We found a patch of open ground on the hill, with grass for our horses and sheep. The trees growing on the hill were casuarinas, and acacias, with a few box. Here we camped and tethered our horses, for fear they should fall down the steep bank of the river. At the foot of the hill, on the opposite side of this river, the rocks were of great height, and almost perpendicular. The river runs through a range of hills coming from the eastward, joining a very high range, over which our journey now lay. This range is composed of a dark coloured granite, very hard; near the water ran a vein of talc schist, running north-west and south-east. On the top of the hill we found large pebbles of quartz.
July 28. — This morning, having loosed our horses from the tether, one of them fell from the hill on to a ledge of hard rock at the edge of the river, a descent of thirty feet; he was so much injured by the fall that he died during the day. We came down the hill through the scrub towards the mountains, and camped but a short distance from where we rested the previous evening. We were now at the foot of the range.
July 29. — Mr. Kennedy proceeded to explore the range, to ascertain the best spot to cross it, it being covered with thick scrub. It runs from the southward and turns eastward. I dug up a piece of ground here near the edge of the scrub, and sowed seeds of cabbage, turnip, rock and water melons, parsley, leek, pomegranate, cotton, and apple pips.
I here found a beautiful orchideous plant, with the habit of BLETIA TANKERVILLIAE. flowering in the same manner, with flower stems about three feet high, and from twelve to twenty flowers on each stem. The sepals were much larger than those of Bletia, and of a rich purple colour; the column yellow, with a spur at the base of the flower about three-fourths of an inch long. I packed some of its thick fleshy roots in a tin case. I also here obtained specimens of a beautiful Hoyea, with long lanceolate leaves, a much finer shrub than H. CELSII. Also a species of HIBISCUS, with rough palmate leaves, large bright sulphur-coloured flowers, with a rich purple spot at the base of each petal, the stamens and stigma bright red, the blossoms when fully expanded eight inches in circumference; the plant has a very erect habit. Also another HIBISCUS. with obcordate tonentose leaves, and pink flowers; both these last were very handsome shrubs. The trees on the open ground were casuarinas and flooded gums, with a few BALFOURIAS; although we had a very difficult task before us — the ascent of the hills-our spirits did not fail us; but the horses began to look very poor and weak, although they had always had plenty of grass.
July 31. — Early this morning Mr. Kennedy, Jackey, and four others left the camp, and began clearing up the mountain. They remained out the whole of the day.
August 1. — Mr. Kennedy and his party returned to the camp, having determined on a route by which we should proceed up the mountain. Mr. Kennedy spoke very highly of Jackey, and thought him one of the best men of the party, for cutting away scrub and choosing a path; he never seemed tired, and was very careful to avoid deep gullies.
August 3. — We started early this morning, and proceeded up a spur of the range, in a north-westerly direction, but could not get so far as they had cleared. We managed to get twenty-three horses and their loads up to a flat place on the range, but, after several efforts, being unable to drive or lead the other horse up, we left him tied to a tree in the scrub. We found him all right the next morning, but as there was nothing but scrub before us, Mr. Kennedy thought it prudent to send the horses back to where there was grass and water for them, whilst some of the party cleared a path. After we had entered the scrub, we crossed a small creek, running rapidly, and which joined another running from the north-eastward, and which at their junction, form the river we had been camped at for the last few previous days.
The creeks ran over precipitous rocky falls, and it was Mr. Kennedy’s opinion, that all the creeks we have met with on this side (coast side) the range, run into the swamps, and there spread, and gathering again, form into channels and run into Rockingham Bay. There is a large tract of land opposite Rockingham Bay which is occupied by swamps, intersected by patches of open ground, and a few peaked hills. The swamps extend about forty-five miles, to about 145° 20’ east longitude. It seemed that a great deal of rain had fallen over this country, and it rained at intervals all the time we were in the vicinity of Rockingham Bay — from the 21st May to the middle of August. It was Mr. Kennedy’s opinion that the rainy season occurred very late this year. The whole peninsula seemed to fall from the east to the west.
August 4. — Mitchell, Dunn, and myself, took the horses and sheep to grass and water, and having hobbled the former, we made ourselves a small gunyah with saplings, and covered it with a small tarpaulin. We divided the night watch into three parts, being four hours each.
August 5. — We mustered the horses morning and evening, and drove the sheep close to the fire, having one of our kangaroo dogs chained up beside them, and the other one with the sheep dog loose. We were apprehensive that the natives might attack us.
August 6. — Shortly after we had mustered the cattle this morning, seven or eight natives appeared at the edge of the scrub, in the direction from which we had come.
Just as they approached, an Australian magpie perched upon a tree, and I shot it to show the effect of our fire-arms. On hearing the report of the gun they all ran into the scrub, and we saw them no more. On all occasions it was Mr. Kennedy’s order — not to fire on the blacks, without they molested us. I was anxious on this occasion not to let the natives know how few we were, and was glad to send them away in so quiet a manner. One of our sheep died this day, and as we had lost several before, and had but little to employ us, we opened it to see if we could ascertain the cause of its death. We found its entrails full of water. Our party was now divided into three bodies: Mr. Kennedy, Jackey, and four others, clearing a way up the mountain; Niblett and three others guarding the stores; whilst myself, Dunn, and Mitchell, had charge of the sheep and horses. It was necessary, therefore, for us to keep a good look-out, and two of us watched together.
August 7. — Early this morning a man came down to help us with the horses and sheep. We loaded our horses, with the exception of one, which was too weak and too much bruised from falling to travel. We turned him toward the open ground, and having packed our horses went on till dark, when we tied our horses to a tree and lay down for the night beside them, although it rained all night. We had each of us a water can which held five pints, which we filled, and our two water kegs, at the foot of the range, fearing we might not find water in the journey over.
August 8. — At daylight we were afoot and breakfasted, and started immediately after. We travelled up the hills all day, but made very little progress, owing to the great labour of clearing, and the numerous steep ascents we met with.
We fortunately found water in a low place, and with difficulty lighted a fire, everything being saturated with rain. We then laid down and endeavoured to sleep, but were unable to do so from the number of small leeches which attacked us. I was obliged to get up several times in the night, and in the morning I found myself covered with blood.
August 9. — We started at daylight, although it was raining, and continued to do so all day; about six o’clock in the evening we reached a small river, running rapidly over rocks, and deep in some places. Its course was north-easterly, but it turned north, a little below where we first came upon it. We camped by the side of it, it being too late to cross, although there was open forest ground on the other side. The open ground on the coast side the range, was considerably lower than that on the other, the highest part of our track being, according to Mr. Kennedy’s barometrical observations. upwards of two thousand feet above the level of the sea. The soil was a strong loam of a dark colour, owing to the admixture of a great deal of decomposed vegetable matter; rock projected in many places., and in those parts where the. rocks were near the surface, CALLITRIS (pine cypress) grew. In the deeper soil were large trees of the genera CASTANOSPERMUM, LOPHOSTEMON., and CEDRELA, mingled with ACHRAS AUSTRALIS, CALAMUS. (climbing palm,) SEAFORTHIA DICKSONIA OSMUNDA, large shrubs of ALYXIA, and several very interesting EPIPHYTAL ORCHIDAE were also found in this place. We also discovered a great many snails, with very large shells of a greyish colour. One I found on the bushes with an aperculum, which I gave to Wall.
August 10. — This morning we took the sheep and horses to a spot in the river where the current was not so strong, and drove them across. The sheep followed the horses like dogs. We then cut down three small straight trees, and made a bridge across a deep channel which ran between two rocks which projected out of the water, across which we carried our stores on our backs. All the things were got over before dark, after which we made a large fire to dry ourselves, having been wet to the waist all day. Niblett, who had been very unwell for three or four days, was taken much worse today. The position of our camp here was about 17° 48’ S. latitude, 145° 20’ E. longitude. We this day crossed the range, and prepared to commence our journey on the other side.
August 11. — We remained this day at the camp to give the horses a rest after their harrassing journey over the range.
August 12. — Proceeding about five miles over uneven open forest ground, with isolated blocks of rock, we camped by a chain of rocky water-holes. The trees growing here were casuarina, box, apple gum, and ironbark.
August 13 — Sunday. Prayers as usual at eleven o’clock.
August 14. — Complaint was made to Mr. Kennedy of the waste and extravagant use of the flour and sugar by Niblett, who had the charge of the stores. Mr. Kennedy immediately proceeded to examine the remainder of the stores, when he found that Niblett had been making false returns of the stores issued weekly. Up to this time Mr. Kennedy, Niblett, and Douglas, (who waited on Mr. Kennedy,) had messed together, apart from the other ten. Niblett took charge of the ration for the smaller mess, and usually cooked it himself, the ration being taken out weekly from that weighed for the whole party. Besides issuing a larger ration to his own mess, Niblett had taken a great deal from the stores for himself.
On finding this out, Mr. Kennedy requested me to take charge of the stores, and issue them to the cook for the week, and from this date we all messed together. We had at this time about seven hundred lbs. flour left. Everything was weighed in the presence of the whole party before I took charge, and I always weighed out every week’s ration in the presence of the cook and two other parties. At this camp it was found necessary to reduce our ration to the following scale per week; fifty lbs. flour, twelve lbs. sugar, two and three-quarter lbs. tea, and the sheep as before — one every second day.
After the ration was cooked, it was divided by the cook at every meal. We this day burned our sheepfold to lighten our loads a little.
August 15. — We were cutting through scrub nearly all day, and crossed several small creeks running westward. This day the horse carrying my specimens had become so poor and weak that he fell five different times, and we were obliged to relieve him of his load, which was now placed on one of Mr. Kennedy’s horses; but we soon found that even without a load he could not travel. We took off his saddle, bridle, and tether rope, and left him behind on a spot of good grass, where plenty of water was to be found.
The country here had a rugged and broken appearance; huge blocks of rock were lying on the open ground, sometimes one irregularly placed on the top of another, and of curious shapes. The hills as well as the valleys were generally covered with good grass, excepting in the scrub. On some of the hills the rocks were shivered into irregular pieces, and displayed crystals of quartz, small laminae of mica, and occasionally hornblende. This evening we camped by the side of a fine casuarina creek, coming from the north-east. Immediately over our camp its waters ran over a very hard “trap-rock” of a black colour, the soil a stiff loam.
August 16. — We travelled on for the most part of this day over irregular, barren, stony ridges, and gullies, intersected by numerous small creeks, and abounding in rocky holes, all containing plenty of water.
Two more of our horses fell several times this day; one of them being very old, and so weak that we were obliged to lift him up. We now made up our minds for the first time, to make our horses, when too weak to travel, available for food; we therefore killed him, and took meat enough from his carcass to serve our party for two days, and by this means we saved a sheep. We boiled the heart, liver, and a piece of the meat to serve us for our breakfast next day. We camped in the evening in the midst of rocky, broken hills, covered with dwarf shrubs and stunted gum trees; the soil in which they grew appearing more sandy than what we had yet passed on this side of the range. The shrubs here were DODONAEA, FABRICIA, DAVIESIA, JACKSONIA, and two or three dwarf species of ACACIA, one of which was very showy, about three feet high, with very small oblong, sericeous phyllodia, and globular heads of bright yellow flowers, produced in great abundance on axillary fascicles; also a very fine leguminous shrub, bearing the habit and appearance of CALLISTACHYS, with fine terminal spikes of purple decandrous flowers, with two small bracteae on the foot stalk of each flower, and with stipulate, oval, lanceolate leaves, tomentose beneath, legumes, small and flattened, three to six seeded, with an arile as large as the seed; these were flowering from four to twelve feet high. There was plenty of grass in the valleys of the creeks.
To the S.W. on the hills the grasses were RESTIO, XEROLES, and a spiney grass, which neither the horses nor the sheep would eat.
August 17. — This morning we commenced to prepare our breakfast of horse-flesh. I confess we did not feel much appetite for the repast, and some would not eat it at all; but our scruples soon gave way beneath the pangs of hunger, and at supper every man of the party ate heartily of it, and afterwards each one claimed his share of the mess with great avidity. The country to the north and north-west — the course we intended to proceed — looking very rugged and broken, we were discouraged from proceeding further this day, as the weak state of our horses prevented us making almost any progress. We therefore camped by the side of a small rocky creek, winding through the mountains in all directions.
August 18th. — Shortly after starting this morning we crossed a creek, running south-west, with a few arborescent callistemons growing out of the rocks here and there. The horse which Mr. Wall had been riding had grown so weak that it was unable to travel, even with nothing to carry but the saddle. As we were passing along the side of a hill, he fell and rolled down into a gully. Being quite a young horse we thought he might regain strength, and did not like to kill him. so we left him and proceeded to find a good place for camping, which we did after travelling about four miles in the north-west direction, by the side of a fine river, with steep reedy banks, lined with large casuarinas and flooded gum trees, and abundance of grass growing in the valley of the river. At this camp the feet of our horses were all carefully examined by Costigan, who was a blacksmith: it was also his duty to mark the number of each of our camps on some adjacent tree.
August 19. — Wall rode back to see if he could bring up the horse we had left behind, but on reaching the spot found him dead; one of our kangaroo dogs had also stopped behind by the horse, being unable to follow us to the camp. We had the good luck to succeed in catching several fish in the river, and what was better shot a fine wallaby, which saved us another sheep. We had all along been particularly unfortunate in getting any thing from the bush to add to our mess, not having been able either to shoot or catch any thing for some time past except a few pigeons and two or three brown hawks.
The river by which we were camped was running west by south: below our camp it was not near so wide as at the spot where we came upon it. Where it turned through the hills its banks were rocky and steep, and the bed narrow, but running rapidly. The hills here as well as the valley of the river were well covered with grass. The position of the camp was about 17° 30’ south latitude, 145° 12’ cast.
August 20, 21, and 22. — During the whole of these three days we travelled over undulating open land, wooded pretty thickly with stringy-bark, box, and apple gum, interspersed with occasional sandy flats, producing a broad leafed MELALEUCA, and a pretty species of GREVILLEA, with pinnatified silvery leaves. Neither the MELALEUCA nor the GREVILLEA grew more than twenty feet high.
On the flats we found a great number of ant-hills, remarkable for their height and size; they were of various forms, but mostly conical, some of them rose ten feet high. From the appearance of the ant hills I should take the sub-soil to be of a reddish clay.
August 23. — We camped by the side of a creek running to the westward, with rather a broad bed and steep banks of strong clay. There was no water in the creeks except in holes.
A tribe of natives, from eighteen to twenty in number, were seen coming down the creek, each carrying a large bundle of spears. Three of our party left the camp and went towards them, carrying in their hands green boughs, and making signs to the blacks to lay down their spears and come to us. After making signals to them for some minutes, three or four of them laid down their spears and approached us. I went back to the camp and fetched a few fish hooks, and a tin plate marked with Mr. Kennedy’s initials; having presented them with these they went away and appeared quite friendly. Shortly after we had camped, Goddard and Jackey went out for the purpose of shooting wallabies; they parted company at the base of a hill, intending to go round and meet on the other side, but missing each other Jackey returned to the camp without his companion. To our great alarm Goddard did not return all night, although we kept up a good fire as a beacon to show him where we were camped, and fired a pistol every five minutes during the night.
August 24. — Three of the party, accompanied by Jackey, rode to the spot where the latter had left Goddard on the previous day, intending, if possible, to track him, and succeeded in doing so for some distance to the eastward, but then coming to some stony ground, they lost the track.
They returned in about six hours, hoping to find him at the camp, but were disappointed. We now began to fear that our companion was lost, and poor Jackey displayed great uneasiness, fearing that he might be blamed for leaving him, and repeatedly saying that he did not wish Goddard to leave the camp at all, and that he had waited for him some time on the opposite side of the hill, where they were to meet. Four fresh horses were saddled, and Jackey, with Mr. Kennedy, Wall, and Mitchell, were just on the point of starting to renew the search, when to our great joy we observed him at a distance, approaching the camp. It would have been sadly discouraging to the whole party to have lost one of our companions in so. wild and desolate a spot. We made but a short stage today in a northerly direction, and camped by the side of a creek running west by south, which, with the last two creeks we had passed, we doubted not, from the appearance of the country, ran into the river we had crossed on the 20th inst. The country appeared to fall considerably to the westward. All the rivers and large creeks we had seen on this side the range (we crossed on the 10th instant) rose in or near the coast range, and appeared to run westerly across the peninsula into the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Although few of them appeared to be constantly running, yet there is an abundance of water to be found in holes and reaches of the rivers and creeks. Where there was any scrub by the side of the creeks, it was composed principally of the climbing palm, (CALAMUS,) GLYCERIA, KENNEDYA, MUCUNA, and a strong growing IPOMEA, with herbaceous-fibrous roots and palmate leaves; and in a few places bamboos were growing.
The trees were, EUGENIAS TERMINABIAS, CASTANOSPERMUMS, with two or three kinds of deciduous figs, bearing large bunches of yellowish fruit on the trunks. Although we frequently partook of these figs I found they did not agree with us; three or four of the party who frequently ate a great quantity, although advised not to do so, suffered severely from pain in the head and swelling of the eyes. The forest trees on the iron stone ridges were stringy-bark, and on the grassy hills box, Moreton Bay ash, and a tree belonging to the natural order LEGUMINOSAE, with axillary racemes of white apetalous flowers, long, broad, flat, many seeded legumes, large bipinnate leaves, leaflets oval, one inch long, and having dark fissured bark; on the flat stiff soil, grew iron-bark, apple tree, and another species of ANGOPHORA, with long lanceolate leaves, seed vessels as large as the egg of a common fowl and a smooth yellow bark.
August 27. — This day being Sunday we had prayers at eleven o’clock. We saved the blood of the sheep we had killed for today’s food, and having cut up the heart, liver, and kidneys, we mixed it all with a little flour and boiled it for breakfast. By this means we made some small saving, and it was a dish that we were very fond of. We saved all the wool that we could get from our sheep, for the purpose of stuffing our saddles, a process which was frequently required, owing to the poor condition of our horses.
August 28. — We started early this morning, but had not travelled far when one of our horses fell from weakness; we placed him on his legs four times during the day, but finding the poor animal could not walk; we shot him and took sufficient meat from him with us to last us two days.
After making but a short stage, over iron-stone ridges, covered with stringy-bark, and loamy flat, producing MELALEUCAS, and GREVILLEAS, we camped beside a small creek, in the sandy bed of which there was no water, but from which we soon obtained some by digging a hole about two feet deep. We afterwards found there was plenty of water in the creek higher up to the eastward.
August 29. — We were obliged to leave another horse behind us this morning as he was quite unable to travel.
We camped by the sandy bed of a very broad river, with water only in reaches and holes. There is, however, evidently a great deal of water running here occasionally, as the bed of the river was six or seven hundred yards wide, with two or three channels.
The flood marks on the trees were fifteen feet high; it has a north-easterly course; its bed was composed in places of large blocks of granite and trap rock, which was very difficult to walk upon, being very slippery. Fine MELALEUCAS were growing on each side, which with their long pendulous shoots and narrow silvery leaves, afforded a fine shade from the heat of the sun. There was plenty both of grass and water for the horses, but most of them continued to grow weaker.
August 30 and 31. — The country was very mountainous and so full of deep gullies, that we were frequently obliged to follow the course of a rocky creek, the turnings of which were very intricate; to add to our difficulties, many of the hills were covered with scrub so thickly that it was with much difficulty that we could pursue our course through it. We had intended to have kept along the bank of the river, thinking it might lead us to Princess Charlotte’s Bay, and although unable to do so, we did not as yet lose sight of the river altogether.
September 1. — All this day we continued travelling over very uneven country, full of precipitous rocks and gullies, until we came to a bend of the river: we now followed it in its tortuous course through the rocks, till we came to a flat country where its channels were divided by high green banks, on which were growing large drooping tea trees (MELALEUCAS); growing on these I found a beautiful species of loranthus, with large fascicles of orange coloured flowers, the leaves cordate, and clasping the stem.
On the hills I found a BRACHYCHITON, with crimson flowers; the tree had a stunted growth, and is deciduous. I collected as much of the gum as I could, and advised the others to do the same; we ate it with the roasted seeds, but were unable to find much of the gum or of the seeds.
September 2. — We travelled over uneven rocky ground, and crossed several gullies, and camped by the bed of a river, at a spot where there were fine reaches of water, full of NYMPHAEA and VILLARSIA. There was plenty of good grass in the valley of the river, which was not very wide here, but on the hills many parts had been recently burned, and the grass was just springing.
September 3. — Sunday. We had prayers at eleven o’clock, and afterwards, during the day, we shot a small emu and a kangaroo. Being camped by the side of the river, we were able to catch a few fish, which were a most acceptable change to us.
The country through which we had passed for the last two days consisted of a good stiff soil, well covered with grass, openly timbered, and well watered.
September 4 and 5. — The country continued much the same, making travelling most difficult and laborious. We were now in the vicinity of Cape Tribulation. In passing through the bed of the river, in which we were in many places obliged to travel, we passed two very high peaked hills to the westward.
September 6. — We now found the river beginning to run in all directions through the hills, over which it was impossible to travel. We were consequently forced to keep the bed of the river, our horses falling every few minutes, in consequence of the slippery surface of the rocks over which they were obliged to pass — consisting of dark granite.
The sterility of the hills here is much relieved by the bunches of beautiful large yellow flowers of the COCHLOSPERMUM JASSYPIUM, (the native cotton of Port Essington,) interspersed with the large balls of white cotton, just bursting from. the seed vessels. I collected a bag full of this cotton, wherewith to stuff our pack-saddles, as our sheep did not supply us with wool enough for that purpose. On these hills. too, I saw a beautiful calythrix, with pink flowers, and two or three very pretty dwarf acacias. As Mr. Kennedy and myself were walking first of the party, looking out for the best path for the horses to travel in, I fell with violence, and unfortunately broke Mr. Kennedy’s mountain barometer, which I carried. I also bruised one of my fingers very much, by crushing it with my gun.
September 7 and 8. — We continued following the river through its westward course, through a very mountainous country. On the hills I saw a very handsome BANHENIA, a tree about twenty feet high, with spreading branches covered with axillary fascicles of red flowers, long broad flat legumes, pinnate leaves, leaflets oval, about one inch long; an ERYTHRINA, with fine racemes of orange coloured flowers, with long narrow keel, and broad vexillum, leaves pinnate, and three to five lunate leaflets, long round painted legumes, red seeds; also a rose coloured BRACHYCHITON, with rather small flowers, a deciduous tree of stunted habit, about twenty feet high. We also passed narrow belts of low sandy loam, covered with BANKSIAS, broad leafed MELALEUCAS, and the orange coloured GREVILLEA I have before spoken of. In these flats we again met with large ant-hills, six to ten feet high, and eight feet circumference; the land at the base of a reddish colour.
September 9. — We had a fine view of the surrounding country from the top of a high hill, in the midst of a range over which we passed. To the west and round to the south the country appeared to be fine undulating forest land, intersected by numerous creeks and small rivers falling considerably to the westward, as in fact all the water had been running for some days past. Doubtless there must be plenty of water in the holes and reaches of these rivers and creeks in all seasons, but in the rainy season many of them must be deep and rapid streams. as the flood marks on the trees were from fifteen to twenty feet high.
The river along the course of which we had been so long travelling varied in width from two hundred to eight hundred yards. It has two, or, in some places, three distinct channels, and in the flat country through which it passes these are divided by large drooping MELALEUCAS.
It is singular that the country here should be so destitute of game; we had seen a few wallabies and a few ducks, but were seldom able to shoot any of them; we had riot seen more than four or five emus altogether since we started; a few brown hawks we occasionally shot, were almost the only addition we were enabled to make to our small ration. To-day we got an iguana and two ducks, which with the water in which our mutton was boiled would have made us a good pot of soup, had there been any substance in the mutton. Even thin as it was, we were very glad to get it. The rivers also seemed to contain but few fish, as we only caught a few of two different kinds, one of which without scales, resembled the cat-fish, caught near Sydney; the other was a dark thick fish with scales.
September 10. — Finding that the river continued running to the westward, and not as we had hoped towards Princess Charlotte’s Bay. we left it and turned in a northerly direction, travelling over very rocky ridges covered with cochlospermums and acacias, interspersed with occasional patches of open forest land, and strewed with isolated blocks of course granite containing crystals of quartz and laminae of white mica.
We had not seen natives for several days, but this night, whilst one of the party was keeping watch. a short distance from the fire, about eleven o’clock, he heard the chattering of the blacks. Three spears were almost immediately thrown into the camp and fell near the fire. but fortunately without injuring any of the party. We fired a few shots in the direction from which the spears came; the night being so dark that we could not see them. We entertained fears that some of our horses might be speared, as they were at some distance from the camp, but fortunately the blacks gave us no further molestation.
Prayers as usual at eleven o’clock.
September 11 and 12. — We pursued our northern course, the ground becoming very rotten; by the sides of small creeks in sandy flats were belts of broad leafed MELALEUCAS and GREVILLEAS. We met with scrubs of SEPTOSPERMUM, FABRICIA, and DODONAEA. By the creeks. when the ground was sandy, we saw ABRUS PRECATORIUS, and a small tree about fifteen feet high, with bi-pinnate leaves, the leaflets very small, with long flat legumes containing ten or twelve black and red seeds, like those of ABRUS PRECATORIUS, but rather larger.
September 13 and 14. — Most part of these days we travelled over a country of stiff soil, covered with iron-bark, and divided at intervals by belts of sandy ground, on which grew BANKSIAS, CALLITRIS, and a very pretty LOPHOSTEMON, about twenty feet high, with long narrow lanceolate leaves, and very round bushy top.
By the side of the small streams running through the flat ground, I saw a curious herbaceous plant, with large pitchers at the end of the leaves, like those of the common pitcher plant (NEPENTHES DISTILLATORIA). It was too late in the season to find flowers, but the flower stems were about eighteen inches high, and the pitchers would hold about a wine-glass full of water. This interesting and singular plant very much attracted the attention of all our party.
We here fell in with a camp of natives. Immediately they saw us they ran away from their camps, leaving behind them some half cooked food, consisting of the meal of some seeds, (most likely Moreton Bay Chesnuts,) which had been moistened, and laid in small irregular pieces on a flat stone with a small fire beneath it. We took a part of this baked meal, leaving behind some fish hooks as payment. In the camp we also found a considerable quantity of Pandanus fruit, which grows very plentifully here. Although however it is sweet and pleasant to the taste, I found that the natives did not eat largely of it, as it possessed very relaxing qualities, and caused violent headache, with swelling beneath the eyes.
Some narrow belts of land we passed here betrayed indications of having been frequently inundated by fresh water. The ground was very uneven, full of small hillocks which were hidden by long grass, which caused our weak horses to fall very frequently.
September 15. — This day we had better travelling, the soil becoming a strong greyish loam; the forest land open and free from scrub, the trees principally consisting of iron bark, box, and the leguminous tree, with bi-pinnate leaves, and dark fissured bark I have before alluded to. We saw here a great many pigeons of various kinds; Mr. Wall shot one pair of GEOPHAPS PLUMIFERA, which he preserved; also a pair of small pigeons of a greyish colour, with red round the eyes, which he considered new.
I also saw a large tree and obtained specimens of it, belonging to the natural order BIGNONIACEAE, with terminal spikes of yellow flowers, and rough cordate leaves; and a proteaceous plant with long compound racemes of white flowers, and deeply cut leaves, resembling a tree with true pinnate leaves. The large seeded ANGOPHORA mentioned by me before, also grew in this district.
About ten o’clock we came upon the banks of a very fine river, with very broad bed, and steep banks on both sides. No doubt this was the river we had seen to the eastward from our camp on the 9th instant. Mr. Kennedy considered this river to rise somewhere near Cape Tribulation, and after running northward about thirty miles, to turn to the south-west, the way it was running when we came upon it. In this place it appeared a fine deep river, and we followed it in its southwest course, at a short distance from its banks, for six or seven miles. The south-east bank was, for the last three or four miles we traced it, covered with a narrow belt of scrub, composed of FLAGELLARIA, JASMINIUM, PHYLLANTHUS, and a rambling plant, belonging to the natural order VERBENACEAE, with terminal spikes of white, sweet-scented flowers.
The trees were principally CASTANOSPERMUM, MELIA, RULINGIA, and SARCOCEPHALUS, and a beautiful tree, belonging to the natural order BOMBACEAE, probably to the genus ERIODENDRON, with large spreading branches, which, as well as the trunk, were covered with spines. These trees are from thirty to fifty feet in height, and produce large crimson camponulate flowers, composed of five large stiff petals, about two inches long; stamens numerous, all joining at the base, and divided again into five parcels; the fillaments are the same length as the petals; five cleft stigma; large five-celled capsule, many seeded cells, the seeds being wrapped in a white silky cotton. This tree was deciduous, the leaves being palmate, and grew on stiff soil: its large crimson flowers attracted universal admiration. We crossed the river at a spot where its banks were not so steep, and where there was but from one to three feet of water; in some places the bottom was sandy and in others rocky, but we could only see rock in the bed of the river. We camped on the side of the river, on some recently burned grass; five of the party went fishing a short distance up the river, and caught a few fish. The country here to the west and the south-west was open undulating forest land, which had been burned some short time before, and the grass just growing again, formed beautiful feed for our horses and sheep. Towards evening about six or eight natives made their appearance, on the same side of the river as our camp; when about two hundred yards from us they shipped their spears, and with other warlike gestures gradually drew near to us, making a great noise, doubtless thinking to frighten us.
There being a wide deep gully between the natives and our camp, we drew up along the edge of it, with our firearms all ready to give them a warm reception, should they endeavour to approach to closer hostilities.
We endeavoured to make them understand that our intentions were friendly, and that we wished them to be peaceable; but they seemed to construe our signals to make them comprehend this, into indications of fear on our part; this increased their courage, and strengthened their determination to drive us away if possible, although they would not come within reach of our guns. We however fired at them, and although none were hurt, they appeared much frightened at the report of the fire arms. They left us and went in the direction taken by the five of our party who had gone fishing, and for the safety of whom we began to be alarmed; our fears were, increased, by hearing the report of a gun a few minutes afterwards. It seemed they had seen our party fishing by the side of the river, and instantly ran at them, to attack them; but one of the party placed on the bank as a look-out, fired at them as they came up, just as they were preparing to throw their spears, on which they turned their backs, and took to flight as fast as they could.
September 16. — This morning after breakfast, myself and Mitchell took two horses and re-crossed the river. We went about two miles back to a spot where I had seen some PORTULACAE, intending to bring some of it back to the camp to boil as a vegetable, it being the only description of food of the kind that we had been able to obtain throughout our journey. We filled a bag with it and returned to the camp, when I found half a damper, one meal’s bread had been stolen from the stores during my absence. This was not the first theft of the kind that had been committed and it was found necessary to watch the provisions night and day. Mr. Kennedy was anxious to discover the thief in this instance, as it was stolen in open daylight while Mr. Kennedy himself was keeping a look-out in his tent, not twenty yards from where the provisions were stolen; every man’s load was searched, but in vain, and Mr. Kennedy, knowing that a party left the camp for the purpose of fishing a short distance up the river, and another party a few yards down the river to wash some clothes — took Jackey with him, who, by detecting some crumbs on the ground, discovered that the damper had been eaten at the place where the clothes were washed.
So careless were some of the party of the fatal consequences of our provisions being consumed before we arrived at Cape York, that as soon as we camped and the horses were unpacked, it was necessary that all the provisions should be deposited together on a tarpaulin, and that I should be near them by day and by night, so that I could not leave the camp at all, unless Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Wall undertook to watch the stores. I was obliged to watch the food whilst cooking; it was taken out of the boiler in the presence of myself and two or three others, and placed in the stores till morning.
It was seldom that I could go to bed before nine or ten o’clock at night, and I had to be up at four in the morning to see our tea made and sweetened, and our breakfast served out by daylight. The meals we cut up in thirteen parts, as nearly equal as possible, and one person touched each part in succession; whilst another person, with his back turned, called out the names of the party, the person named taking the part touched. The scrupulous exactness we were obliged to practice with respect to our provisions was increased by our misfortune in getting next to nothing to assist our scanty ration; while the extreme labour to which we were subjected increased our appetites. Two of the party always went out at daylight to fetch the horses in, and it was necessary we should start at early morning on account of the great heat in the middle of the day. We always endeavoured to make a fair stage by ten o’clock, and then, if in a convenient place, to halt: sometimes we were obliged to halt at nine o’clock, but we started again generally about three or four o’clock p.m., and travelled on till six.
Twelve or fourteen natives made their appearance at the camp this evening, in the same direction as on the previous day. Each one was armed with a large bundle of spears, and with boomerangs. Their bodies were painted with a yellowish earth, which with their warlike gestures made them look very ferocious. The grass in the position they had taken up was very long and very dry, quite up to the edge of the gully; they set it on fire in three or four places, and the wind blowing from them to us, it burned very rapidly. Thinking we should be frightened at this display they followed the fire with their spears shipped, making a most hideous noise, and with the most savage gestures. Knowing the fire could not reach us, as there was nothing to burn on our side the gully, we drew up towards them with our firearms prepared. They approached near enough to throw three spears into our camp, one of which went quite through one of our tents. No one was hurt, but a few of our party fired at them; we could not tell whether any were wounded, as they disappeared almost immediately. We kept three on watch this night for fear of the natives.
September 17 to 21. — Leaving the river, we turned northwest, and had occasionally fair travelling over stiff soil, intersected by many creeks, most of them dry, but were everywhere able to find water at intervals of a few miles. We passed over some ironstone ridges, and rocky hills, covered with CALLITRIS, COCHLOSPERMUM, and STERCALIAS. On the stiff soil the trees were ironbark, box, apple, gum, and some large acacias, with long lanceolate phyllodia, and large spikes of golden coloured flowers. The grass here in the valleys between the hills had been burned, and was grown again about eight or ten inches high.
September 22. — We crossed a creek running eastward, overhung by MELALEUCAS and arborescent callistemons, with plenty of grass on both sides; the soil appeared to grow more sandy than that over which we had hitherto passed.
September 23. — We proceeded in our course, travelling over sandy ridges covered with EUGENIA, EXOCARPUS, and a very pretty EUCALYPTUS, with rose-coloured flowers and obcordate leaves, and yellow soft bark, also a dwarfish tree with dark green leaves, and axillary racemes of round monospermons, fruit of a purple colour, with a thin rind of a bitter flavour; also a great many trees of moderate size, from fifteen to twenty feet high, of rather pendulous habit, oval lanceolate exstipulate leaves, loaded with an oblong yellow fruit, having a rough stone inside; the part covering the stem has, when ripe, a mealy appearance, and very good flavour. I considered from its appearance it was the fruit which Leichhardt called the nonda, which we always afterwards called it; we all ate plentifully of it.
The weather for the last few days had been very hot, the thermometer ranging in the shade from 95° to 100° at noon; still there was generally a breeze in the morning from the eastward, and in the evening from the west. We camped by the same creek as on the previous day, but in our present position it was running S.W., with several lagoons in the valley, full of NYMPHEA and VILLARSIA; our latitude here was 15° 33’ south.
September 24. — We crossed the creek and proceeded northward, till we camped by a dry creek, from the bed of which we obtained water by digging. During the day’s journey, we passed over some flats of rotten honeycomb ground, on which nothing was growing but a few stunted shrubs, and a blue herbaceous plant belonging to the order BORAGINEAE. We also passed over other sandy flats covered with broad-leafed MELALEUCAS and Grevillias, and a few Banksias. On these flats ant hills occurred, and in their vicinity there was seldom much grass. The grasses generally growing there were annual grasses. It was Mr. Kennedy’s opinion that the creek we crossed this morning joined the river we left on the 16th, and formed the Mitchell, although the country hereabouts did not resemble the banks of the Mitchell, as described by Leichhardt; but the appearance of the country varies so much every few miles, particularly to the westward, that it is impossible to support an opposite opinion on this ground.
September 25. — As three of the horses could not be found this morning, four men were left behind to search for them while the rest of the party travelled on. They had not come up with us at about four o’clock, and being anxious to find water before dark, we proceeded along a narrow open valley covered with long grass, and large pandanus, skirted on each side by rather scrubby forest land. At dark we reached a large water hole. One of the men left behind shortly arrived, and stated that the rest had halted for the night. Mr. Kennedy being anxious to bring all the horses to water, and to have the party together, sent me back to conduct them to the camp, which I very soon did, even though it was dark, the track being very plain. We collected a great many nondas today and baked some of them with our bread, which was the only way we could eat them cooked; they were much better fresh from the trees, but we found them rather astringent. Spring, our best kangaroo dog, was unable to come up to the camp this day, being overpowered by the heat of the sun, a circumstance we all regretted, as he was a most excellent watch dog.
September 26. — We travelled a good stage this morning before we found water in a sandy creek, where the country seemed to fall slightly to the north-east. We still hoped to find a river running into Princess Charlotte’s Bay.
September 27. — We proceeded N.E. over alternating sandy ridges and marshy flats; the latter, though dry where we passed over them, presented the appearance of being generally inundated. We camped by the side of a rocky creek, containing very little water.
September 28. — Just as we were about to start this morning, two natives, carrying a bundle of reeds and a basket, passed within a short distance of our camp, and seemed to take no notice of us. Our sheep were not to be found, having rambled to a distance: although without a sheepfold, this was the first instance in which the sheep had strayed; generally remaining by the fire, towards which they were driven at night, till morning.
We had never seen a wild native dog during the journey. Our dog that we had left behind came into the camp to night, very much exhausted, having travelled about thirty miles; he must have subsisted on nondas, as it was impossible he could have caught anything, and we had seen him cat them before. He died the following morning.
September 30. — After travelling a short distance we crossed a small river running eastward: for some distance down it, the water was brackish, and at spring tide the salt water came up to our camp; but we obtained good water from a small lagoon near the camp. We proceeded over a large plain well covered with good grass, the soil stiff clay. We proceeded about five or six miles on a plain, turning westward towards a lagoon surrounded by stravadiums and a few very large palms. We hoped to find water in it, but it was dry, and fearing we should not be able to find water before dark if we proceeded in this direction, we thought it better to return to our camp.
October 1. — We had prayers this day as usual on Sundays, at eleven o’clock. We saw native fires at a distance to the north-east of our camp, but the natives did not come near us. I went up what we fancied was the river by which we had camped, but found it only a creek; but it had plenty of water in it at this season. There were several small lagoons near it. There were large drooping tea trees (melaleucas) growing on its banks, and large palm trees, of the same kind as those I had seen in the plain the day before, and which were by far the finest palms I had ever seen; the trunks were not very high, varying from fifteen to thirty feet, but very large in bulk, varying from six to eight feet in circumference: they had large fan-shaped leaves, with slightly curved spines on the footstalk. It is a diaecious palm, the female plants bearing an immense quantity of round fruit, about the size of a green-gage plum, of a purple colour, and rather disagreeable flavour; the pulp covering the seed was very oily, and not a leaf to be seen on any of the fruit-bearing plants; the whole top consists of branches full of ripe and unripe seeds. Bushels of seeds were lying beneath some of the trees, it seeming that but few were eaten by birds or small animals. One of our party suffered severely from eating too freely of them as they brought on diarrhoea. I measured two or three of the leaves of the male plants, and those not of the largest size, and found them to measure six feet in the widest part, and four feet and half in the narrowest. These leaves were split by the wind into segments of various widths. The grass growing to the westward of our camp was not so high as that to the eastward, and appeared to consist of a larger proportion of annual grasses, the perennial grass growing only in tufts; near the river it was covered with an annual IPOMEA, of very strong growth; the leaves and blossoms were withered, but I obtained seeds. We shot three ducks today, and Wall shot a wallaby of a light grey colour, long soft fur, and rather bushy tail; he thought it new, and preserved the skin. I also obtained specimens of a beautiful plant, a shrub about two feet high, with white sweet scented blossoms, belonging to the natural order “Rubiaceae,” and several other interesting plants. Lately however my specimens had been very much spoiled, being torn from the horse’s back so frequently, and I grew disheartened to see all the efforts I had made, made in vain, although I still took every method to preserve them from injury.
October 2. — This morning we proceeded across the plain, and when we had advanced about two miles upon it, we discovered that the natives had set the grass on fire behind us and the wind blowing from the eastward, and the grass growing thick and high, it rapidly gained upon us; we made all possible haste to some burned ground which we had seen on Saturday, and only reached it a few minutes before the fire. We were enveloped in smoke and ashes, but fortunately no one was burned. The natives did not come near us, although no doubt they watched us, and saw us proceeding to the part of the plain that was burned. The plain extended a great distance to the westward, and crossing it one of our horses knocked up and could travel no longer; Mr. Kennedy ordered him to be bled, and we not liking to lose the blood, boiled it as a blood-pudding with a little flour, and in the situation we were, enjoyed it very much.
October 3. — We killed the horse this morning as he was not able to stand, and dried the meat to carry with us; we made a small stage of saplings on which to dry the meat; the meat was cut off to the bone as clean as possible, and then cut in thin slices, and laid on the stage in the sun to dry, and the sun being very hot, it dried well; the heart, liver, and kidneys were parboiled, and cut up fine, and mixed with the blood of the horse and about three pounds of flour; they made four puddings, with which, after they had boiled about four hours, we satisfied our appetites better than we had been able to o for some time: it was served up in the same manner as our usual rations, in equal parts, and each man had a right to reserve a portion of his mess till the next day, but very little was saved; Mr. Kennedy found that it was even necessary to have the horse flesh watched whilst drying, finding that two or three of the party had secreted small quantities amongst their clothes; such precautions were quite necessary as well in justice to the whole of the party, as to keep up the strength of all, which seemed to be very fast declining. At night we made a fire to smoke the meat, and to destroy the maggots, which wore very numerous in it; we packed the meat in empty flour bags.
October 4. — We proceeded northward over small sandy plains, covered with annual grass, which was now very much withered, and through belts of dwarf bushy MELALEUCAS and Banksias. We were not far from Princess Charlotte’s Bay, Jane’s Table Land being in sight. We came to the side of a salt lagoon, very nearly dry; we found it covered with salt, of which we took about 20lbs., which was as much as we could carry, but even this was a very seasonable help; we rubbed about two pounds of it in our meat. We encamped by a small creek, but the water was brackish, and not being able to find any other we were obliged to make use of it. One of our horses was slightly hurt by a stump of a mangrove tree. All we got from the horse we last killed was sixty-five pounds of meat.
October 5 and 6. — We travelled over sandy soil, but with little grass, meeting frequently with salt lagoons, surrounded by various salsolaceous plants. Near the edge of a salt water creek we found a native camp, composed of about seven or eight gunyahs, curiously and neatly built of a conical form; all very nearly of the same size, about five and a half feet diameter at the base, and six and a half feet high. They were made by placing saplings in the ground in a slanting position, which were tied together at the top and woven inside like wicker work, with strips of small bamboo canes. The whole was then covered with palm leaves, over which was a coating of tea tree-bark, very neatly fastened by strips of cane. They were substantially built, and would no doubt keep out the wet effectually. They seemed to be occupied by the natives only in the rainy season, as, from their appearance, they had not been inhabited for some time. I entered one of them through a small arched opening of about twenty inches or two feet high, and found three or four nets, made with thin strips of cane, about five feet long, with an opening of about eight inches in diameter at one end, getting gradually smaller for about four feet, where there was a small opening into a large round sort of basket. These nets were laid by the natives in narrow channels to catch fish, as well as in the tracks of small animals, such as rats and bandicoots, for the purpose of catching them. There were also some pieces of glass bottle in the gunyah, carefully wrapped in bark and placed in a very neat basket, made in the shape of a lady’s reticule. The glass is used by the natives in marking themselves: all of them being marked on the arms and breast, while some were marked on the cheeks and forehead.
In the camp we thus discovered were small stone ovens, similar to those we had found in the camp at Rockingham Bay, as well as one with a large flat stone raised six or eight inches from the ground, and a fire place of loose stones beneath. Near to one of the tents was a large stone hollowed out in the middle, and two or three round pebbles for pounding dried seeds, &c.
October 7 and 8. — Flat sandy ground, with occasional patches of scrub, composed of bushy MELALEUCAS, HIBISCUS, BANKSIA, and several rambling plants, with a few large palms scattered in places; there was not much grass, except at intervals.
October 9. — This morning we came to a river, running into Princess Charlotte’s Bay, in lat. 14° 30’ S., long. 143° 56’. It was deep, and about 100 yards wide, the water salt, and the tide was flowing. up fast, and the banks were high. A few scattered mangroves, and a leguminous tree, with rough cordate leaves, and large one or two seeded legumes, were growing on the banks. We were obliged to turn southerly for a short distance, and found what we had fancied to be a river only a small creek. We crossed it about twelve or fourteen miles from the sea, but the water was brackish. The trees on the sandy ground were broad leafed MELALEUCAS, GREVILLEAS, nondas, and by the water holes which we occasionally saw were stravadiums and drooping MELALEUCAS. I also saw a species of stravadium with racemes of white flowers, much longer than the others, with leaves ten inches long by four inches broad, and the trees thirty feet high. Keeping at a distance from the sea-coast to avoid the salt water creeks, and to obtain good grass for our horses, we halted in the middle of the day, and were visited by a great many natives, coming in all directions, and making a great noise. They appeared to have been collecting nondas, as a great many of their women were carrying large (dillis) baskets full away. After the women were out of sight they made signs to us to go away. We got our horses together, and endeavoured to make them friendly, but our entreaties were disregarded, and the presents we offered them were treated with contempt. When we found they would not allow us to come near them we packed our horses and prepared to start. They followed us at some distance, continually throwing spears after us for some time; one was thrown into the thigh of a horse, but fortunately not being barbed it was taken out, and the horse was not much injured. We then rode after them in two or three directions and fired at them, and they left us, and we saw no more of them.
October 11. — To-day when halting in a place where there was no water, but good grass, a tribe of natives made their appearance, and appeared disposed to be friendly. We carefully collected our horses, and shortly after the natives drew near to us. We made them presents of a few fish-hooks and tin plates, and made signs to them that we wanted water. several of them ran off, and in a few minutes returned with water in a vessel (if it may be so called,) composed of pieces of bark tied together at each end, and they continued going backwards and forwards until they had brought enough to fill our cans, besides what we drank. They left us quite quietly.
October 12. — We proceeded along the creek by which we had encamped the night before; the water was brackish. We attempted to go through some mangroves to the beach, but did not succeed.
October 13. — Jackey, Taylor, and myself took three horses, and tried to get to the beach more to the northward than yesterday. We passed through a belt of mangroves, where the ground was pretty firm, the tide coming up only occasionally; we then proceeded along a sandy ridge to the northward, when we found it ended by a salt water lagoon, surrounded by salsolaceous plants and mangroves, which it was impossible to get through. We returned to our camp, and here Mr. Kennedy abandoned the thought of going to the beach, as he felt sure H.M.S. Bramble (which was to have met us at the beginning of August) would have gone; our journey having occupied so much longer time than we could have possibly anticipated. This consideration, combined with the great difficulty which seemed likely to ensue in obtaining water and feed for our horses, determined him to take a different direction.
October 15. — We had prayers as usual this day, being Sunday, at 11 o’clock; this day we finished the consumption of all our sugar, except a very small quantity, which was reserved for any particular case of sickness.
October 16. — This morning a horse fell into a rocky water hole, and finding it impossible to get him out alive, we killed him, and cured the flesh as before, drying it in the sun on a stage; the blood, heart, and liver furnished us with a good day’s food. Our meat being well dried by five o’clock in the afternoon, we sprinkled some salt upon it, and put it in bags for the convenience of carrying. We left one of our round tents, and such other things as we could possibly spare behind us at the camp, as our horses were now so weak they could not carry their loads.
October 17 and 18. — Our travelling was very uneven, our horses giving us continual trouble from their frequent falls; we had a few narrow belts of scrub to cut through, but they were not very thick.
October 19. — Several of our horses were now quite unable to carry anything but the saddle; we passed through open forest land, with a light soil, sub-soil clay, with isolated blocks of granite rock scattered about.
We encamped by a rocky creek, with water in holes only; it ran westerly, and had fresh green feed on each side, the grass having been burned shortly before, and was now growing again.
October 20. — We passed over a piece of stiff ground about two miles in extent, which appeared to have been the scene of a devastating hurricane. It was covered with fallen timber, which rendered it very difficult to cross. The wind must have swept from the south-west to the north-east, and from the appearance of the saplings which were growing from the stumps of some of the trees which had been broken, this terrific storm appeared to have taken place about two years ago. Not a tree had been left standing in the part where we crossed, nor could we tell how far the devastation had extended to the south-west; but the ground to the north and east being swampy, and covered only with small MELALEUCAS and Banksias, the wind had not taken much effect. Many of the trees in the middle of the fallen timber measured two feet in diameter. Some were torn up by the roots, and the trunks of others were snapped at various heights from the ground. The latitude of our camp here was 13° 35’.
October 21. — We killed another of our horses today, as he was too weak to stand.
October 22. — We got our meat well dried today, and having smoked it a little, packed it as before. Our stock of flour was now reduced to two hundred pounds weight, and many of the men growing very weak, we were obliged to increase our weekly ration a little. Three of the party, Douglass, Taylor, and Costigan, were suffering from diarrhoea, in consequence of having eaten too freely of the pandanus fruit. Their spirits began to fail them, and they frequently complained despairingly to Mr. Kennedy that they should never be able to reach Cape York. Although our horses were so very weak, these men were obliged to ride, being quite unable to walk far at a time.
The country before us was very mountainous, but between the hills we found plenty of grass and water: to the south the whole country appeared to be on fire.
October 23 to 25. — We travelled during these days over a rocky mountainous country, interspersed with deep gullies and creeks, fringed with belts of scrub. In these scrubs I saw the white apple and the crimson scitamineous plant seen near Rockingham Bay; scattered over the country were a few cedar trees and Moreton Bay chestnuts, and some very fine timber trees belonging to the natural order MYRTACEAE, upwards of sixty feet high, and three to four feet in diameter, with fine straight trunks.
October 26 to 28. — We travelled over stony hills, the tops of which were occasionally composed of white flint, with rusty veins running through it. On the rides of the hills were broken rocks containing mica, hornblende, and crystals of quartz. The grass on these hills had all been newly burned.
October 29. — Sunday; prayers at eleven o’clock. We this day shot three small wallabies, which were a great treat to us.
October 30. — This day Luff was taken very lame, being seized with severe pain and stiffness in the right leg; he was quite unable to walk, so we burned the other two round tents to enable him to ride.
November 1 and 2. — We again had to kill a horse which was too weak to walk, and disposed of it as we had our former ones.
November 3. — We were cutting through scrub all day, intersected by deep gullies and rocky hills; we crossed a small river, with very uneven rocky bottom, about three feet deep; where we crossed it, it was running southerly, and as there had been a heavy storm a few days previously, the current was rapid; five of our horses fell in crossing it — the one carrying my specimens in a very bad place; we were obliged to cut the girths, and before I could secure his load two bags of seeds were washed away; we tied our horses to trees, and encamped in a thick bamboo scrub by the side of the river.
November 4. — This morning Jackey went to examine a scrub through which we wanted to pass, and while out, shot a fine cassowary; it was very dark and heavy, not so long on the leg as the common emu, and had a larger body, shorter neck, with a large red, stiff, horny comb on its head; Mr. Wall skinned it, but from the many difficulties with which he had to contend, the skin was spoiled before it could be properly. preserved.
November 5. — We travelled a short distance to the top of a hill, from which Jackey had seen grass from a tree. We were obliged to kill another horse today, and cured the flesh as usual.
November 6. — We were compelled to shoot two other horses to day, and as we had no other means of taking the meat with us, we skinned one of them, and made the skin into bags, in which we each carried a few pounds of meat on our backs.
November 7 and 8. — We were travelling these two days over very rough rocky ground, intersected with gullies and belts of scrub.
November 9. — We were obliged this morning to start without our breakfast, having no bread baked, and being unable to find water. We followed the course of a creek at the foot of a low range of hills running northward, the range being to the westward. In the evening we found water in the creek.
November 10. — We proceeded along the valley of the creek, which was very uneven, and full of small hillocks. Near the spot where we camped a great number of Pandanus were growing. On each side of the creek there were a few trees growing, and a thick scrub to the westward. The soil was stiff, with plenty of grass in the valley.
Mr. Kennedy, here, finding from the weak state of some of the men, that it would be impossible for us to reach Cape York before our provisions were exhausted, resolved to form an advance party, consisting of himself, Jackey, Costigan, Luff, and Dunn.
We had but nine horses left, of which number it was proposed that they should take seven, and proceed to Cape York as quickly as possible, to obtain provisions for the rest of the party from the vessel waiting with supplies for our homeward journey.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:52