Leave the Last Station — Fossil Remains — Darling Downs — Enter the Wilderness — Waterloo Plains — The Condamine — Heavy Rains — Charley’s Misconduct — Murphy and Caleb Lost — Kent’s Lagoon — Coal — Murphy and Caleb Found Again.
It was at the end of September, 1844, when we completed the necessary preparations for our journey, and left the station of Messrs. Campbell and Stephens, moving slowly towards the farthest point on which the white man has established himself. We passed the stations of Messrs. Hughs and Isaacs and of Mr. Coxen, and arrived on the 30th September, at Jimba, [It is almost always written Fimba, in the Journal; but I have corrected it to Jimba. —(Ed.)] where we were to bid farewell to civilization.
These stations are established on creeks which come down from the western slopes of the Coast Range — here extending in a north and south direction — and meander through plains of more or less extent to join the Condamine River; which — also rising in the Coast Range, where the latter expands into the table-land of New England — sweeps round to the northward, and, flowing parallel to the Coast Range, receives the whole drainage from the country to the westward of the range. The Condamine forms, for a great distance, the separation of the sandstone country to the westward, from the rich basaltic plains to the eastward. These plains, so famous for the richness of their pasture, and for the excellency of the sheep and cattle depastured upon them, have become equally remarkable as the depositaries of the remains of extinct species of animals, several of which must have been of a gigantic size, being the Marsupial representatives of the Pachydermal order of other continents.
Mr. Isaacs’ station is particularly rich in these fossil remains; and they have been likewise found in the beds and banks of Mr. Hodgson’s and of Mr. Campbell’s Creeks, and also of Oaky Creek. At Isaacs’ Creek, they occur together with recent freshwater shells of species still living in the neighbouring ponds, and with marly and calcareous concretions; which induces me to suppose that these plains were covered with large sheets of water, fed probably by calcareous springs connected with the basaltic range, and that huge animals, fond of water, were living, either on the rich herbage surrounding these ponds or lakes, or browsing upon the leaves and branches of trees forming thick brushes on the slopes of the neighbouring hills. The rise of the country, which is very generally supposed to have taken place, was probably the cause of the disappearance of the water, and of the animals becoming extinct, when its necessary supply ceased to exist. Similar remains have been found in Wellington Valley, and in the Port Phillip District, where, probably, similar changes have taken place.
The elevation of Darling Downs — about 1800 to 2000 feet, according to the barometrical observations of Mr. Cunningham — renders the climate much cooler than its latitude would lead one to suppose; indeed, ice has frequently been found, during the calm clear nights of winter. During September and October, we observed at sunrise an almost perfect calm. About nine o’clock, light westerly winds set in, which increased towards noon, died away towards evening, and after sunset, were succeeded by light easterly breezes; thunder-storms rose from south and south-west, and passed over with a violent gust of wind and heavy showers of rain; frequently, in half an hour’s time, the sky was entirely clear again; sometimes, however, the night and following day were cloudy.
The plains, as we passed, were covered with the most luxuriant grass and herbage. Plants of the leguminosae and compositae, were by far the most prevalent; the colour of the former, generally a showy red, that of the latter, a bright yellow. Belts of open forest land, principally composed of the Box-tree of the Colonists (a species of Eucalyptus), separate the different plains; and patches of scrub, consisting of several species of Acacias, and of a variety of small trees, appear to be the outposts of the extensive scrubs of the interior. There are particularly three species of Acacias, which bestow a peculiar character on these scrubs: the one is the Myal (A. pendula)— first seen by Oxley on Liverpool Plains, and afterwards at the Barwan, and which exists in all the western plains between the Barwan and Darling Downs — whose drooping foliage and rich yellow blossoms render it extremely elegant and ornamental. The second, the Acacia of Coxen, resembles the Myal (without its drooping character), its narrow lanceolate phyllodia rather stiff, its yellowish branches erect. The third, is the Bricklow Acacia, which seems to be identical with the Rose-wood Acacia of Moreton Bay; the latter, however, is a fine tree, 50 to 60 feet high, whereas the former is either a small tree or a shrub. I could not satisfactorily ascertain the origin of the word Bricklow [Brigaloe, Gould.], but, as it is well understood and generally adopted by all the squatters between the Severn River and the Boyne, I shall make use of the name. Its long, slightly falcate leaves, being of a silvery green colour, give a peculiar character to the forest, where the tree abounds.
Oct. 1. — After having repaired some harness, which had been broken by our refractory bullocks upsetting their loads, and after my companions had completed their arrangements, in which Mr. Bell kindly assisted, we left Jimba, and launched, buoyant with hope, into the wilderness of Australia.
Many a man’s heart would have thrilled like our own, had he seen us winding our way round the first rise beyond the station, with a full chorus of “God Save the Queen,” which has inspired many a British soldier — aye, and many a Prussian too — with courage in the time of danger. Scarcely a mile from Jimba we crossed Jimba Creek, and travelled over Waterloo Plains, in a N. W. direction, about eight miles, where we made our first camp at a chain of ponds. Isolated cones and ridges were seen to the N. E., and Craig Range to the eastward: the plains were without trees, richly grassed, of a black soil with frequent concretions of a marly and calcareous nature. Charley gave a proof of his wonderful power of sight, by finding every strap of a pack-saddle, that had been broken, in the high grass of Waterloo Plains.
Oct. 2. — Bullocks astray, but found at last by Charley; and a start attempted at 1 o’clock; the greater part of the bullocks with sore backs: the native tobacco in blossom. One of the bullocks broke his pack-saddle, and compelled us to halt.
Oct. 3. — Rise at five o’clock, and start at half-past nine; small plains alternate with a flat forest country, slightly timbered; melon-holes; marly concretions, a stiff clayey soil, beautifully grassed: the prevailing timber trees are Bastard box, the Moreton Bay ash, and the Flooded Gum. After travelling seven miles, in a north-west direction, we came on a dense Myal scrub, skirted by a chain of shallow water-holes. The scrub trending towards, and disappearing in, the S. W.: the Loranthus and the Myal in immense bushes; Casuarina frequent. In the forest, Ranunculus inundatus; Eryngium with terete simple leaves, of which the horses are fond; Prasophyllum elatum, sweetly scented. A new composite with white blossoms, the rays narrow and numerous. Sky clear; cumuli to the S. W.; wind from the westward. Ridges visible to the N.N.E. and N.E. At the outskirts of the scrub, the short-tailed sleeping lizard with knobby scales was frequent: one of them contained six eggs. We camped outside of the scrub, surrounded by small tufts of the Bricklow Acacia. Droves of kangaroos entered the scrub; their foot-paths crossed the forest in every direction.
The thermometer, before and at sunrise, 32 degrees; so cold that I could not work with my knife, away from the fire. At sunset, a thick gathering of clouds to the westward.
Oct. 4. — Cloudy sky; thermometer 50 degrees at sunrise; little dew; 64 degrees at eight o’clock.
We travelled about eleven miles in a S. W. and S. S. W. direction, skirting the scrub. During the journey, two thunder-storms passed over; one to the southward beyond the Condamine, the other to the north and north-east over the mountains. The scrub is a dense mass of vegetation, with a well defined outline — a dark body of foliage, without grass, with many broken branches and trees; no traces of water, or of a rush of waters. More to the southward, the outline of the scrub becomes less defined, and small patches are seen here and there in the forest. The forest is open and well timbered; but the trees are rather small. A chain of lagoons from E. by N. — W. by S.; large flooded gum-trees (but no casuarinas) at the low banks of the lagoons. The presence of many fresh-water muscles (Unio) shows that the water is constant, at least in ordinary seasons.
The scrub opens more and more; a beautiful country with Bricklow groves, and a white Vitex in full blossom. The flats most richly adorned by flowers of a great variety of colours: the yellow Senecios, scarlet Vetches, the large Xeranthemums, several species of Gnaphalium, white Anthemis-like compositae: the soil is a stiff clay with concretions: melon-holes with rushes; the lagoons with reeds.
At night, a thunder-storm from south-west. Our dogs caught a female kangaroo with a young one in its pouch, and a kangaroo rat.
Oct. 5. — We followed the chain of lagoons for about seven miles, in a west by south direction; the country to our right was most beautiful, presenting detached Bricklow groves, with the Myal, and with the Vitex in full bloom, surrounded by lawns of the richest grass and herbage; the partridge pigeon (Geophaps scripta) abounded in the Acacia groves; the note of the Wonga Wonga (Leucosarcia picata, Gould.) was heard; and ducks and two pelicans were seen on the lagoons. Blackfellows had been here a short time ago: large unio shells were abundant; the bones of the codfish, and the shield of the fresh-water turtle, showed that they did not want food. A small orange tree, about 5–8 minutes high, grows either socially or scattered in the open scrub, and a leafless shrub, belonging to the Santalaceae, grows in oblong detached low thickets. Chenopodiaceous plants are always frequent where the Myal grows. The latitude of our camp was 26 degrees 56 minutes 11 seconds.
Oct. 6. — Was fully occupied with mending our packsaddles and straps, broken by the bullocks in throwing off their loads.
Oct. 7. — In following the chain of lagoons to the westward, we came, after a few miles travelling, to the Condamine, which flows to the north-west: it has a broad, very irregular bed, and was, at the time, well provided with water — a sluggish stream, of a yellowish muddy colour, occasionally accompanied by reeds. We passed several gullies and a creek from the northward, slightly running.
The forest on the right side of the river was tolerably open, though patches of Myal scrub several times exposed us to great inconvenience; the left bank of the Condamine, as much as we could see of it, was a fine well grassed open forest. Conglomerate and sandstone cropped out in several sections. Mosquitoes and sandflies were very trouble-some. I found a species of snail nearly resembling Succinea, in the fissures of the bark of the Myal, on the Box, and in the moist grass. The muscle-shells are of immense size. The well-known tracks of Blackfellows are everywhere visible; such as trees recently stripped of their bark, the swellings of the apple-tree cut off to make vessels for carrying water, honey cut out, and fresh steps cut in the trees to climb for opossums. Our latitude was 26 degrees 49 minutes. The thermometer was 41 1/2 at sunrise; but in the shade, between 12 and 2 o’clock, it stood at 80 degrees, and the heat was very great, though a gentle breeze and passing clouds mitigated the power of the scorching sun.
Oct. 8. — During the night, we had a tremendous thunder-storm, with much thunder and lightning from the west. The river was very winding, so that we did not advance more than 7 or 8 miles W.N.W.; the Bricklow scrub compelled us frequently to travel upon the flood-bed of the river. Fine grassy forest-land intervened between the Bricklow and Myal scrubs; the latter is always more open than the former, and the soil is of a rich black concretionary character. The soil of the Bricklow scrub is a stiff clay, washed out by the rains into shallow holes, well known by the squatters under the name of melon-holes; the composing rock of the low ridges was a clayey sandstone (Psammite). Sky cloudy; wind north-east; thermometer 80 degrees at 2 o’clock; the sunshine plant (Mimosa terminalis) was frequent on the black soil; a Swainsonia; an Anthericum, with allium leaf and fine large yellow blossoms; and another species with small blossoms, (Stypandra).
Oct. 9. — Commenced with cloudy weather, threatening rain. It cleared up, however, about 10 o’clock, and we had a very warm day. We followed the course of the river for some time, which is fringed with Myal scrubs, separated by hills with fine open forest. Finding that the river trended so considerably to the northward [It seems that Northward here is merely miswritten for Westward. —(Ed.)], we left it at a westerly bend, hoping to make it again in a north-west direction. Thus, we continued travelling through a beautiful undulating country, until arrested by a Bricklow scrub, which turned us to the south-west; after having skirted it, we were enabled to resume our course to W.N.W., until the decline of day made me look for water to the south-west. The scrubs were awful, and threatened to surround us; but we succeeded in finding a fine large lagoon, probably filled by the drainage of the almost level country to the north-east. No water-course, not the slightest channel produced by heavy rains, was visible to indicate the flow of waters. Occasionally we met with swampy ground, covered with reeds, and with some standing water of the last rains; the ground was so rotten, that the horses and bullocks sunk into it over the fetlocks. The principal timber trees here, are the bastard box, the flooded-gum, and the Moreton Bay ash; in the Myal scrub, Coxen’s Acacia attains a very considerable size; we saw also some Ironbark trees.
The tracks and dung of cattle were observed; and this was the farthest point to the westward where we met with them. Kangaroos seemed to be very rare; but kangaroo rats were numerous. Black-fellows were very near to us last night; they very probably withdrew upon seeing us make our appearance.
Oct. 10. — Cloudy; wind northerly; thermometer at 2h. 30m. P. M. 88 degrees. At about 1 1/2 or 2 miles distance, in a north-west direction from our last camp, we came to a fine running creek from the north-east, which we easily crossed; and, at about one mile farther, reached a creek — which, at this time of the year, is a chain of lagoons — lined on both sides by Bricklow scrub, which occupied a portion of its limited flats in little points and detached groves. This vale was one of the most picturesque spots we had yet seen. An Ironbark tree, with greyish fissured bark and pale-green foliage, grows here, and Sterculia heterophylla is pretty frequent amongst the box and flooded-gum, on the rising ground between the two creeks. Farther on, the country opened, the scrub receded; Ironbark ridges here and there, with spotted gum, with dog-wood (Jacksonia) on a sandy soil, covered with flint pebbles, diversified the sameness. The grass was beautiful, but the tufts distant; the Ironbark forest was sometimes interspersed with clusters of Acacias; sometimes the Ironbark trees were small and formed thickets. Towards the end of the stage, the country became again entirely flat, without any indication of drainage, and we were in manifest danger of being without water. At last, a solitary lagoon was discovered, about 30 yards in diameter, of little depth, but with one large flooded gum-tree, marked, by a piece of bark stripped off, as the former resting-place of a native; the forest oak is abundant. Here I first met with Hakea lorea, R. Br., with long terete drooping leaves, every leaf one and a-half to two feet long — a small tree 18 — 24 minutes high — and with Grevillea mimosoides, R. Br., also a small tree, with very long riband-like leaves of a silvery grey. We did not see any kangaroos, but got a kangaroo rat and a bandicoot.
Oct. 11. — Travelling north-west we came to a Cypress-pine thicket, which formed the outside of a Bricklow scrub. This scrub was, at first, unusually open, and I thought that it would be of little extent; I was, however, very much mistaken: the Bricklow Acacia, Casuarinas and a stunted tea-tree, formed so impervious a thicket, that the bullocks, in forcing their way through it, tore the flour-bags, upset their loads, broke their straps, and severely tried the patience of my companions, who were almost continually occupied with reloading one or other of the restless brutes. Having travelled five miles into it, and finding no prospect of its termination, I resolved upon returning to our last camp, which, however, I was not enabled to effect, without experiencing great difficulty, delay, and loss; and it was not until the expiration of two days, that we retraced our steps, and reached the lagoon which we had left on the 11th. We had lost about 143 pounds of flour; Mr. Gilbert lost his tent, and injured the stock of his gun. The same night, rain set in, which lasted the whole of the next day: it came in heavy showers, with thunder-storms, from the north and north-west, and rendered the ground extremely boggy, and made us apprehensive of being inundated, for the lagoon was rapidly rising: our tent was a perfect puddle, and the horses and cattle were scarcely able to walk.
Within the scrub there was a slight elevation, in which sandstone cropped out: it was covered with cypress-pine, and an Acacia, different from the Bricklow. The Bottle-tree (Sterculia, remarkable for an enlargement of the stem, about three feet above the ground,) was observed within the scrub: the white Vitex (?) and Geigera, Schott., a small tree, with aromatic linear-lanceolate leaves, grew at its outside, and in small groves scattered through the open forest. Fusanus, a small tree with pinnate leaves, and Buttneria, a small shrub, were also found in these groves.
Many pigeons were seen; the black cockatoo of Leach (Calyptorhynchus Leachii) was shot; we passed several nests of the brush-turkey (Talegalla Lathami, Gould). Charley got a probably new species of bandicoot, with longer ears than the common one, and with white paws. We distinguished, during the rain, three different frogs, which made a very inharmonious concert. The succinea-like shells were very abundant in the moist grass; and a limnaea in the lagoon seemed to me to be a species different from those I had observed in the Moreton Bay district, The thermometer at sunset 62 degrees (in the water 68 degrees); at sunrise 52 degrees (in the water 62 degrees).
On the 15th October, the wind changed during the afternoon to the westward, and cleared the sky, and dried the ground very rapidly.
Oct. 17. — The ground was too heavy and boggy to permit us to start yesterday; besides, three horses were absent, and could not be found. Last night, Mr. Roper brought in three ducks and a pigeon, and was joyfully welcomed by all hands. Charley had been insolent several times, when I sent him out after the cattle, and, this morning, he even threatened to shoot Mr. Gilbert. I immediately dismissed him from our service, and took from him all the things which he held on condition of stopping with us. The wind continued from the west and south-west.
Oct. 18. — Towards evening Charley came and begged my pardon. I told him that he had particularly offended Mr. Gilbert, and that I could not think of allowing him to stay, if Mr. Gilbert had the slightest objection to it: he, therefore, addressed himself to Mr. Gilbert, and, with his consent, Charley entered again into our service. John Murphy and Caleb, the American negro, went to a creek, which Mr. Hodgson had first seen, when out on a Reconnoissance to the northward, in order to get some game. John had been there twice before, and it was not four miles distant: they, however, did not return, and, at nine o’clock at night, we heard firing to the north-east. We answered by a similar signal, but they did not come in. I sent Mr. Hodgson and Charley to bring them back. If they had simply given the bridle to their horses, they would have brought them back without delay; but probably both got bewildered.
The latitude of this lagoon, which I called Kent’s Lagoon, after F. Kent, Esq., is 26 degrees 42 minutes 30 seconds. We tried to obtain opossums, during the clear moonlight night, but only caught the common rabbit-rat.
Our horses go right into the scrub, to get rid of the little flies, which torment them. The weather is very fair; the regular westerly breeze, during the day, is setting in again: the dew is very abundant during clear nights: the morning very cold; the water of the lagoon 8 degrees to 10 degrees warmer than the air.
We have regularly balanced our loads, and made up every bag of flour to the weight of 120 pounds: of these we have eight, which are to be carried by four bullocks. The chocolate and the gelatine are very acceptable at present, as so little animal food can be obtained. The country continues to be extremely boggy, though the weather has been fine, with high winds, for the last four days. Tracks of Blackfellows have been seen; but they appear rare and scattered in this part of the country. Though we meet with no game, tracks of kangaroos are very numerous, and they frequently indicate animals of great size. Emus have been seen twice.
Thermometer at sunset 65 degrees 7 minutes (75 degrees in the water); at a quarter past one, 90 degrees. South-westerly winds.
Oct. 19. — During the night, north-easterly breeze; at the break of day, a perfect calm; after sunset easterly winds again. Thermometer at sunrise 51 degrees (60 degrees in the water); a cloudless sky. Mr. Hodgson and Charley, whom I had sent to seek John and Caleb, returned to the camp with a kangaroo. I sent them immediately off again, with Mr. Roper, to find the two unfortunate people, whose absence gave me the greatest anxiety. Mr. Roper and Mr. Gilbert had brought one pigeon and one duck, as a day’s sport; which, with the kangaroo, gave us a good and desirable supper of animal food. During the evening and the night, a short bellowing noise was heard, made probably by kangaroos, of which Mr. Gilbert stated he had seen specimens standing nine feet high. Brown brought a carpet snake, and a brown snake with yellow belly. The flies become very numerous, but the mosquitoes are very rare.
On a botanical excursion I found a new Loranthus, with flat linear leaves, on Casuarina, a new species of Scaevola, Buttneria, and three species of Solanum. Mr. Hodgson brought a shrubby Goodenia; another species with linear leaves, and with very small yellow blossoms, growing on moist places in the forest; two shrubby Compositae; three different species of Dodonaea, entering into fruit; and a Stenochilus, R. Br. with red blossoms, the most common little shrub of the forest.
Mr. Gilbert brought me a piece of coal from the crossing place of the creek of the 10th October. It belongs probably to the same layer which is found at Flagstone Creek, on Mr. Leslie’s station, on Darling Downs. We find coal at the eastern side of the Coast Range, from Illawarra up to Wide Bay, with sandstone; and it seems that it likewise extends to the westward of the Coast Range, being found, to my knowledge, at Liverpool Plains, at Darling Downs, and at Charley’s Creek, of the 10th Oct. It is here, as well as at the east side, connected with sandstone. Flint pebbles, of a red colour, were very abundant at Charley’s Creek, and in the scrub, which I called the Flourspill, as it had made such a heavy inroad into our flour-bags. The flat on which we encamp, is composed of a mild clay, which rapidly absorbs the rain and changes into mud; a layer of stiff clay is about one foot below the surface. The grasses are at present in full ear, and often four feet high; but the tufts are distant, very different from the dense sward at the other side of the Range. As we left the Myal country of the Condamine, we left also its herbage, abounding in composite, leguminous, and chenopodiaceous plants, with a great variety of grasses.
Oct. 20. — This morning, at half-past nine o’clock, Messrs. Roper, Hodgson, and Charley, returned with John Murphy and Caleb. They had strayed about twelve miles from the camp, and had fairly lost themselves. Their trackers had to ride over seventy miles, before they came up to them, and they would certainly have perished, had not Charley been able to track them: it was indeed a providential circumstance that he had not left us. According to their statement, the country is very open, with a fine large creek, which flows down to the Condamine; this is the creek which we passed on the 10th Oct., and which I called “Charley’s Creek.” The creek first seen by Mr. Hodgson joins this, and we are consequently still on westerly waters.
Thermometer, at sunrise, 54 degrees (in the water 64 degrees); at eight o’clock 64 degrees. Strong easterly and northerly winds during the last two nights. It becomes calm at a quarter past three, with the rise of Venus.
Mr. Calvert brought an edible mushroom out of Flourspill Scrub.
The Loranthus of the Myal grows also on other Acacias with glaucous leaves. A bright yellow everlasting is very fine and frequent.
Oct. 22. — I left Kent’s lagoon yesterday. In order to skirt the scrub, I had to keep to the north-east, which direction brought me, after about three miles travelling through open forest, to Mr. Hodgson’s creek, at which John Murphy and Caleb had been lost. The creek here consists of a close chain of fine rocky water-holes; the rock is principally clay, resembling very much a decomposed igneous rock, but full of nodules and veins of iron-stone. I now turned to the northward, and encamped at the upper part of the creek. To-day I took my old course to the north-west, and passed a scrubby Ironbark forest, and flat openly-timbered forest land. I came again, however, to a Bricklow scrub, which I skirted, and after having crossed a very dense scrubby Ironbark forest, came to a chain of rushy water-holes, with the fall of the waters to the north-east. The whole drainage of a north-easterly basin, seems to have its outlet, through Charley’s Creek, into the Condamine.
On the banks of Hodgson’s Creek, grows a species of Dampiera, with many blue flowers, which deserves the name of “D. floribunda;” here also were Leptospermum; Persoonia with lanceolate pubescent leaf; Jacksonia (Dogwood); the cypress-pine with a light amber-coloured resin (Charley brought me fine claret-coloured resin, and I should not be surprised to find that it belongs to a different species of Callitris); an Acacia with glaucous lanceolate one-inch-long phyllodia; and a Daviesia; another Acacia with glaucous bipinnate leaves; a white Scaevola, Anthericum, and a little Sida, with very showy blossoms. Spotted-gum and Ironbark formed the forest; farther on, flooded-gum.
Pigeons, mutton-birds (Struthidia), are frequent, and provided us with several messes; iguanas are considered great delicacies; several black kangaroos were scen to day.
The weather very fine, but hot; the wind westerly; thermometer at sunset 74 degrees (84 degrees in the water.)
Oct. 23. — At the commencement of last night, westerly winds, the sky clear; at the setting of the moon (about 3 o’clock a.m.), the wind changed to the north-east; scuddy clouds passing rapidly from that quarter; at sunrise it clears a little, but the whole morning cloudy, and fine travelling weather.
We travelled in a north-westerly direction, through a Casuarina thicket, but soon entered again into fine open Ironbark forest, with occasionally closer underwood; leaving a Bricklow scrub to our right, we came to a dry creek with a deep channel; which I called “Acacia Creek,” from the abundance of several species of Acacia. Not a mile farther we came on a second creek, with running water, which, from the number of Dogwood shrubs (Jacksonia), in the full glory of their golden blossoms. I called “Dogwood Creek.” The creek came from north and north-east and flowed to the south-west, to join the Condamine. The rock of Dogwood Creek is a fine grained porous Psammite (clayey sandstone), with veins and nodules of iron, like that of Hodgson’s creek. A new gum-tree, with a rusty-coloured scaly bark, the texture of which, as well as the seed-vessel and the leaf, resembled bloodwood, but specifically different; the apple-tree (Angophora lanceolata); the flooded-gum; a Hakea with red blossoms; Zierea; Dodonaea; a crassulaceous plant with handsome pink flowers; a new myrtaceous tree of irregular stunted growth, about 30 feet high, with linear leaves, similar to those of the rosemary; a stiff grass, peculiar to sandstone regions; and a fine Brunonia, with its chaste blue blossoms, adorn the flats of the creek as well as the forest land. The country is at present well provided with water and grass, though the scattered tufts of Anthistiria, and the first appearance of the small grass-tree (Xanthorrhaea), render its constancy very doubtful. The winding narrow-leaved Kennedyas, Gnaphaliums in abundance; Aotus in low bushes.
No game, except a kangaroo rat, pigeons, ducks, and mutton-birds. Mr. Phillips brought a crawfish from the creek: it had just thrown off its old shell. Fresh-water muscles plentiful, though not of the size of those of the Condamine. A small rat was caught this morning amongst our flour bags; it had no white tip at the tail, nor is the tail so bushy as that of the rabbit-rat: probably it was a young animal.
Oct. 24. — The creek being boggy, we had to follow it down for several miles to find a crossing place. Even here, one of the horses which carried the tea, fell back into the water, whilst endeavouring to scramble up the opposite bank, and drenched its valuable load. We now travelled through a country full of lagoons, and chains of water-holes, and passed through several patches of cypress-pine, until we came to another creek with rocky water-holes, with the fall to the eastward, probably joining Dogwood Creek, from which we were not four miles distant. Fine grassy flats accompanied the creek on its left, whilst a cypress-pine forest grew on its right bank. The latitude of our yesterday’s camp was 26 degrees 26 minutes 30 seconds and, to-day, we are only four miles more to the westward. The country is still so flat and so completely wooded — sometimes with scrubs, thickets, Acacia, and Vitex groves, sometimes with open Ironbark forest intermingled with spotted gum — that no view of distant objects can be obtained. Several Epacridaceous shrubs and species of Bossiaea and Daviesia reminded me of the flora of the more southern districts.
Oct. 25. — We travelled about twelve miles in a north-westerly direction, our latitude being 26 degrees 15 minutes 46 seconds. The country in general scrubby, with occasional reaches of open forest land. The rosemary-leaved tree of the 23rd was very abundant. An Acacia with spiny phyllodia, the lower half attached to the stem, the upper bent off in the form of an open hook, had been observed by me on the sandstone ridges of Liverpool Plains: and the tout ensemble reminded me forcibly of that locality. The cypress-pine, several species of Melaleuca, and a fine Ironbark, with broad lanceolate, but not cordate, glaucous leaves, and very dark bark, formed the forest. An arborescent Acacia, in dense thickets, intercepted our course several times. Bronze-winged pigeons were very numerous, but exceedingly shy.
The stillness of the moonlight night is not interrupted by the screeching of opossums and flying squirrels, nor by the monotonous note of the barking-bird and little owlet; no native dog is howling round our camp in the chilly morning: the cricket alone chirps along the water-holes; and the musical note of an unknown bird, sounding like “gluck gluck” frequently repeated, and ending in a shake, and the melancholy wail of the curlew, are heard from the neighbouring scrub.
Oct. 26. — Our journey was resumed: wind in the morning from the west; light clouds passing rapidly from that quarter.
Messrs. Hodgson and Roper, following the chain of ponds on which we had encamped, came to a large creek, with high rocky banks and a broad stream flowing to the south-west. We passed an Acacia scrub, and stretches of fine open Ironbark forest, interspersed with thickets of an aborescent species of Acacia, for about four miles in a north-west course, when we found ourselves on the margin of a considerable valley full of Bricklow scrub; we were on flat-topped ridges, about 80 to 100 feet above the level of the valley. After several attempts to cross, we had to turn to the N. N. E. and east, in order to head it, travelling through a most beautiful open Ironbark forest, with the grass in full seed, from three to four feet high. Following a hollow, in which the fall of the country was indicated by the grass bent by the run of water after heavy showers of rain, we came to fine water-holes, about five miles from our last camp.
At the other side of the valley, we saw distant ranges to the north-west and northward. The scrub was occasionally more open, and fine large bottle-trees (Sterculia) were frequent: the young wood of which, containing a great quantity of starch between its woody fibres, was frequently chewed by our party. Fusanus was abundant and in full bearing; its fruit (of the size of a small apple), when entirely ripe and dropped from the tree, furnished a very agreeable repast: the rind, however, which surrounds its large rough kernel, is very thin.
Oct. 27. — During last night a very strong, cold, westerly wind.
After travelling about 3 1/2 miles north, we were stopped by a Bricklow scrub, which compelled us to go to the east and south-east. I encamped, about three miles north-east by north from my last resting place, and examined the scrub: it was out of the question to cross it. Mr. Gilbert shot three black cockatoos and a bronze-winged pigeon.
Oct. 28. — During the night it was very cold, though no wind was stirring. In the morning we experienced an easterly breeze. Travelling to the eastward and east by south, I found that the water-holes outside of the scrub at which we were encamped, changed into a creek with rocky bed, having its banks partly covered with cypress-pine thickets. I crossed it about three miles lower down, and, finding the Ironbark forest sufficiently open, turned to the northward; scarcely three miles farther, we came to another creek of a character similar to that of the last, which I suppose to be one of the heads of Dogwood Creek. The blue Brunonia was again frequent; the grass five feet high, in full ear, and waving like a rye field. The soil, however, is sandy and rotten, and the grass in isolated tufts. We encamped about four miles north-east from our last camp.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:52