OBJECTS OF THE EXPEDITION. — IT IS DELAYED BY A REFERENCE TO LORD STANLEY. — LIST OF THE PARTY. — DEPARTURE FROM BUREE. — SCATTERED POPULATION. — IRISH AMONGST THE SQUATTERS. — A TEA-TOTALLER FROM SYDNEY. — A SHEPHERDESS IN AUSTRALIA. SHEEP WALK WHERE CATTLE RUN. — MEET AN OLD ABORIGINAL ACQUAINTANCE. — CATTLE STATIONS ABANDONED. — THE BOGAN RIVER. — YOUNG BULLOCKS TROUBLESOME. — EXCESSIVE HEAT. — GREAT SCARCITY OF WATER. — THE PARTY MUCH DISTRESSED BY HEAT AND DROUGHT. — MELANCHOLY FATE OF THE BOGAN TRIBE. — INTERESTING PLANTS DISCOVERED. — CARRY WATER FORWARD. — DESPERATE RIDE DOWN THE BOGAN. — FIND ITS CHANNEL DRY. — DOGS DIE FROM THIRST. — THE PARTY ATTACKED WITH OPHTHALMIA. — QUIT THE BOGAN, BY MOVING TO THE PONDS OF CANNONBÀ. — ENCAMP THERE TO REST AND REFRESH THE PARTY.
The exploration of Northern Australia, which formed the object of my first journey in 1831, has, consistently with the views I have always entertained on the subject3, been found equally essential in 1846 to the full development of the geographical resources of New South Wales. The same direction indicated on Mr. Arrowsmith’s map, published by the Royal Geographical Society in 1837, was, in 1846, considered, by a committee of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, the most desirable to pursue at a time when every plan likely to relieve the colony from distress found favour with the public.
3 [See London Geographical Journal, vol. vii. part 2, p. 282.]
At no great distance lay India and China, and still nearer, the rich islands of the Indian Archipelago; all well-peopled countries, while the industrious and enterprising colonists of the South were unable to avail themselves of the exuberance of the soil and its productions,
“Which mock’d their scant manurings, and requir’d MORE HANDS THAN THEIRS to prune their wanton growth.”
The same attraction which drew the greatest of discoverers westward, “al nacimiento de la especeria,”4 seemed to invite the Australian explorer northward; impelled by the wayward fortunes of the Anglo-Saxon race already rooted at the southern extremity of the land whose name had previously been “Terra Australis incognita.” The character of the interior of that country still remained unknown, the largest portion of earth as yet unexplored. For the mere exploration, the colonists of New South Wales might not have been very anxious just at that time, but when the object of acquiring geographical knowledge could be combined with that of exploring a route towards the nearest part of the Indian Ocean, westward of a dangerous strait, it was easy to awaken the attention of the Australian public to the importance of such an enterprise. A trade in horses required to remount the Indian cavalry had commenced, and the disadvantageous navigation of Torres Straits had been injurious to it: that drawback was to be avoided by any overland route from Sydney to the head of the Gulf of Carpentaria.
4 [“To the region where spices grew.”]
But other considerations, not less important to the colonists of New South Wales, made it very desirable that a way should be opened to the shores of the Indian Ocean. That sea was already connected with England by steam navigation, and to render it accessible to Sydney by land, was an object in itself worthy of an exploratory expedition. In short, the commencement of such a journey seemed the first step in the direct road home to England, for it was not to be doubted that on the discovery of a good overland route between Sydney and the head of the Gulf of Carpentaria, a line of steam communication would thereupon be introduced from that point to meet the English line at Singapore.
In this view of the subject, it seemed more desirable to open a way to the head of the Gulf of Carpentaria, the nearest part of the sea, than to the settlement at Port Essington, on a presque-île forming the furthest point of the land; and, that the journey would terminate at the Gulf was therefore most probable. The map of Australia, when compared with that of the world, suggested reasonable grounds for believing that a considerable river would be found to lead to the Gulf of Carpentaria.
My department having been reduced to a state of inactivity in 1843, I submitted a plan of exploration to Sir George Gipps, the Governor, when His Excellency promised, that if the Legislative Council made such reductions as they seemed disposed to make in the public expenditure, he should be able to spare money for such an expedition. The Legislative Council not only made reductions in the estimates to save much more money than His Excellency had named, but even voted 1000L. towards the expense of the journey, and petitioned the Governor to sanction it. His Excellency, however, then thought it necessary to refer the subject to the Secretary for the Colonies. Much time was thus lost, and, what was still worse, the naturalist to whom I had explained my plan, and invited to join my party, Dr. Leichardt. This gentleman, tempted by the general interest taken by the colonists at the time in a journey of discovery, which afforded a cheering prospect amid the general gloom and despondency, raised and equipped a small party by public subscription, and proceeded by water to Moreton Bay. Dr. Leichardt, and the six persons who finally accompanied him thence to the northward, had not been heard of, and were supposed to have either perished or been destroyed by natives.5
5 [Dr. Leichhardt returned afterwards to Sydney from Port Essington by sea; and the journal of his journey, recently published, shows what difficulties may be surmounted by energy and perseverance.]
The reply of Lord Stanley was, as might have been anticipated, favourable to the undertaking; but the Governor of the colony still declined to allow the journey to be undertaken, without assigning any reason for keeping it back. This was the more regretted by me, when it became known in New South Wales that Captain Sturt was employed, with the express sanction of Lord Stanley, to lead an exploring expedition from Adelaide into the northern interior of Australia, and that he was actually then in New South Wales. Sir George Gipps had expressed, in one of his early despatches to the British Government, his readiness to encourage such an undertaking as that, and stated that “no one came forward to claim the honour of such an enterprise;” yet now that Lord Stanley had sanctioned the plan of the Surveyor General, whose duty it was to survey the country, he refused to allow this officer to proceed. The Legislative Council, however, renewed the petition for this undertaking, to which the Governor at length assented, in 1845; and the sum of 2000L. was unanimously voted for the outfit of the party, but with the clear understanding on the part of the Council, that the plan of the Surveyor General should be adopted.
The idea of a river flowing to the northward, was not, however, new. The journey in 1831 was undertaken chiefly in consequence of a report that a large river had been followed down to the coast by a bushranger, accompanied by the natives: and the ultimate course of the Condamine, still a question, was a subject of controversy in some of the first papers published in the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society. My suggestions on the subject are detailed at length in the London Geographical Journal, Vol. VII., Part 2., page 282., and accompanied by a map showing the line of exploration then recommended.
In making preparations for this expedition, the means of conveyance by land and water required the earliest consideration. These were strong bullock-drays and portable boats. Horses and light carts had been preferred by me: but the longer column of march, and necessity for a greater number of men, were considered objections; while many experienced persons suggested that the bullocks, though slow, were more enduring than horses.6 Eight drays were therefore ordered to be made of the best seasoned wood: four of these by the best maker in the colony, and four by the prisoners in Cockatoo Island. Two iron boats were made by Mr. Struth, each in two parts, on a plan of my own, and on the 17th of November the whole party moved off from Paramatta on their way to the proposed camp at Buree.
6 [The results of this journey proved quite the reverse.]
I joined the party encamped at Buree on the 13th of December, having rode there from Sydney in four and a half days, and on the following Monday, 15th of December, 1845, I put it in motion towards the interior. The Exploring party now consisted of the following persons:—
SIR T. L. MITCHELL, Kt., Surveyor General, Chief of the Expedition. EDMUND B. KENNEDY, Esq. Assistant Surveyor, Second in command. W. STEPHENSON, M.R.C.S.L. Surgeon and Collector of objects of Natural History. PETER M’AVOY, Mounted Videttes. Charles Niblett, William Graham, ANTHONY BROWN, Tent-keeper. WILLIAM BALDOCK, In charge of the horses. John Waugh Drysdale, Store-keeper. Allan Bond, Bullock-drivers. Edward Taylor, William Bond, William Mortimer, George Allcot, John Slater, Richard Horton, Felix Maguire, James Stephens, Carpenters. Job Stanley, Edward Wilson, Blacksmith. George Fowkes, Shoemaker. John Douglas, Barometer carrier. Isaac Reid, Sailor and Chainman. Andrew Higgs, Chainman. William Hunter, With the horses. Thomas Smith, Patrick Travers, Carter and Pioneer. Douglas Arnott, Shepherd and Butcher. Arthur Bristol, Sailmaker and Sailor.
8 drays, drawn by 80 bullocks; 2 boats; 13 horses; 4 private do.; and 3 light carts, comprised the means of conveyance; and the party was provided with provisions for a year:— 250 sheep (to travel with the party), constituting the chief part of the animal food. The rest consisted of gelatine, and a small quantity of pork.
With the exception of a few whose names are printed in italics, the party consisted of prisoners of the Crown in different stages of probation, with whom the prospect of additional liberty was an incentive so powerful, that no money payment was asked by them or expected, while, from experience, I knew that for such an enterprise as this I could rely on their zealous services. The patience and resolution of such men in the face of difficulties, I had already witnessed; and I had hired three of the old hands, in order the more readily to introduce my accustomed camp arrangements. Volunteers of all classes had certainly come eagerly forward, offering their gratuitous services on this expedition of discovery; but discipline and implicit obedience were necessary in such a party to ensure the objects in view, as well as its own preservation; and it was not judged expedient, where some prisoners were indispensable as mechanics, to mix with them men of a different class, over whom the same kind of authority could not be exercised.
Following the same road by which I quitted Buree, in 1835, my former line of route across Hervey’s Range lay to the left. The party thus arrived at Bramadura, a sheep station occupied by Mr. Boyd. It was on the same chain of ponds crossed by me on the journey of 1835, and then named Dochendoras Creek, but now known as the Mundadgery chain of ponds. These ponds had been filled by heavy rains which fell on Tuesday the 9th December — the day on which I left Sydney, where the weather had been clear and sultry. A tornado or hurricane had, on the same day, levelled part of the forest near this place, laying prostrate the largest trees, one side of which was completely barked by the hailstones. Many branches of trees along the line of route, showed that the wind had been very violent to a considerable distance.
16TH DECEMBER. — Some of the bullocks missing: the party could not, therefore, quit the camp until 11 o’clock. The passage of the bed of the chain of ponds (which we travelled up) was frequently necessary, and difficult for heavily laden drays, which I found ours were, owing, chiefly to a superabundance of flour, above the quantity I intended to have taken, but supplied to my party, and brought forty miles by my drays before my arrival at the camp.
We halted at another sheep station of Mr. Boyd’s. Here I perceived that Horehound grew abundantly; and I was assured by Mr. Parkinson, a gentleman in charge of these stations, that this plant springs up at all sheep and cattle stations throughout the colony, a remarkable fact, which may assist to explain another, namely, the appearance of the Couchgrass, or Dog’s-tooth-grass, wherever the white man sets his foot, although previously unknown in these regions.
17TH DECEMBER. — Set off about 7 A.M. and travelled along a good road, for about 6 miles. Then, at a sheep station, we crossed the chain of ponds, following a road leading to Dr. Ramsay’s head station, called Balderudgery. Leaving that road, and, at 7 miles, taking to the left, we finally encamped on Spring Creek, after a journey of about 9 miles. We had passed over what I should have called a poor sort of country, but everywhere it was taken up for sheep; and these looked fat; yet not a blade of grass could be seen; and, but for the late timely supply of rain, it had been in contemplation to withdraw these flocks to the Macquarie.
Calling at a shepherd’s hut to ask the way, an Irish woman appeared with a child at her breast and another by her side: she was hut-keeper. She had been there two years, and only complained that they had never been able to get any potatoes to plant. She and her husband were about to leave the place next day, and they seemed uncertain as to where they should go. Two miles further on, a shoemaker came to the door of a hut, and accompanied me to set me on the right road. I inquired how he found work in these wild parts. He said, he could get plenty of work, but very little money; that it was chiefly contract work he lived by: he supplied sheep-owners with shoes for their men, at so much per pair. His conversation was about the difficulty a poor man had in providing for his family. He had once possessed about forty cows, which he had been obliged to entrust to the care of another man, at 5S. per head. This man neglected them: they were impounded and sold as unlicensed cattle under the new regulations.
“So you saw no more of them?”
“Oh, yes, your honour, I saw some of them AFTER THEY HAD BEEN SOLD AT THE POUND! — I wanted to have had something provided for a small family of children, and if I had only had a few acres of ground, I could have kept my cows.”
This was merely a passing remark made with a laugh as we walked along, for he was one of the race —
“Who march to death with military glee.”
But the fate of a poor man’s family was a serious subject: such was the hopeless condition of a useful mechanic ready for work even in the desolate forests skirting the haunts of the savage. So fares it with the DISJECTA MEMBRA of towns and villages, when such arrangements are left to the people themselves in a new colony.
18TH DECEMBER. — The party moved off about 7 A.M., and continued along a tolerable road, crossing what shepherds called Seven Mile Creek, in which there was some water; and a little further on we quitted the good beaten road leading to Balderudgery, and followed one to the left, which brought us to another sheep station on the same chain of ponds, three miles higher up than Balderudgery. Having directed the party to encamp here, I pursued the road south-westward along the chain of ponds, anxious to ascertain whether I could in that direction pass easily to the westward of Hervey’s Range, and so fall into my former line of route to the Bogan. At about five miles I found an excellent opening through which the road passed on ground almost level. Having ascended a small eminence on the right, I fell in with some natives with spears, who seemed to recognise me, by pointing to my old line of route, and saying, “Majy Majy” (Major Mitchell). I little thought then that this was already an outlying picquet of the Bogan Blacks, sent forward to observe my party. The day was hot, therm. 97° in the shade. The chain of ponds, there called “the Little River,” contained water in abundance, and was said to flow into the Macquarie, in which case the Bogan can have but few sources in Hervey’s Range.
The station beside which we had encamped, comprised a stock yard, and had been formerly a cattle station belonging to Mr. Kite. It was now a sheep station of Dr. Ramsay’s, and there was another sheep station a mile and a half from it, along the road I had examined. Thus the country suitable for either kind of stock is taken up by the gradual encroachment of sheep on cattle runs, not properly such. This easily takes place — as where sheep feed, cattle will not remain, and sheep will fatten where cattle would lose flesh. Fortunately, however, for the holders of the latter description of stock, there are limits to this kind of encroachment. The plains to the westward of these ranges afford the most nutritive pasturage in the world for cattle, and they are too flat and subject to inundations to be desirable for sheep. A zone of country of this description lies on the interior side of the ranges, as far as I have examined them. It is watered by the sources of the rivers Goulburn, Ovens, Murray, Murrumbidgee, Lachlan, Bogan, Macquarie, Castlereagh, Nammoy, Peel, Gwydir, and Darling; on which rivers the runs will always make cattle fat. There are two shrubs palpably salt, and, perhaps, there is something salsolaceous in the herbage also on which cattle thrive so well; and the open plains and muddy waterholes are their delight. Excessive drought, however, may occasionally reduce the owners of such stock to great extremities, and subject them to serious loss. The Acacia pendula, a tree whose HABITAT is limited and remarkable, is much relished by the cattle. It is found only in clay soils, on the borders of plains, which are occasionally so saturated with water as to be quite impassable; never on higher ground nor on any lower than that limited sort of locality, in the neighbourhood of rivers which at some seasons overflow. In such situations, even where grass seems very scarce, cattle get fat; and it is a practice of stockmen to cut down the Acacia pendula (or Myall trees, as they call them) for the cattle to feed on.
At this sheep station where we had encamped, I met with an individual who had seen better days, and had lost his property amid the wreck of colonial bankruptcies — a tea-totaller, with Pope’s Essay on Man for his consolation, in a bark hut. This “melancholy Jaques” lamented the state of depravity to which the colony was reduced, and assured me that there were shepherdesses in the bush! This startling fact should not be startling, but for the disproportion of sexes, and the squatting system which checks the spread of families. If pastoralisation were not one thing, and colonisation another, the occupation of tending sheep should be as fit and proper for women as for men. The pastoral life, so favourable to love and the enjoyment of nature, has ever been a favourite theme of the poet. Here it appears to be the antidote of all poetry and propriety, only because man’s better half is wanting. Under this unfavourable aspect the white man first comes before the aboriginal native; were the intruders accompanied by women and children, they could not be half so unwelcome. One of the most striking differences between squatting and settling in Australia consists in this. Indeed if it were an object to uncivilise the human race, I know of no method more likely to effect it than to isolate a man from the gentler sex and children; remove afar off all courts of justice and means of redress of grievances, all churches and schools, all shops where he can make use of money, then place him in close contact with savages. “What better off am I than a black native?” was the exclamation of a shepherd to me just before I penned these remarks.
19TH DECEMBER. — The party moved along the road I had previously examined. On passing through to the western side, I recognised the trees, plants, and birds of the interior regions. Granitic hills appeared on each side, and the sweet-scented Callitris grew around, with many a curious shrub never seen to the eastward of these ranges. On descending, grassy valleys, with gullies containing little or no water, reminded me of former difficulties in the same vicinity, and it was not until we had travelled upwards of sixteen miles that I could encamp near water. This consisted of some very muddy holes of the Goobang Creek, on which I had formerly been pleasantly encamped with Mr. Cunningham. [* See Vol. I. of Three Expeditions, etc., page 171.] Two or three natives soon made their appearance, one of whom I immediately recognised to be my old friend Bultje, who had guided me from thence to the Bené Rocks, on my former journey along the Bogan. He brought an offering of honey. Ten years had elapsed since I formerly met the same native in the same valley, and time had made no alteration in his appearance. With the same readiness to forward my views that he formerly evinced, he informed me where the water was to be found; and how I should travel so as to fall in with my former route, by the least possible DÉTOUR. Mount Laidley bore 23° E. of N.
20TH DECEMBER. — This day I gave the cattle a rest, as the grass seemed good, while I rode to look at my old line of marked trees. A cattle station (of Mr. Kite) was within a mile and a half of our camp, and at about three miles below it, I fell in with the former line. Where it crossed the Goobang, a track still continued by them, but finally diverged, leaving the line of marked trees, without the slightest trace of the wheels or hoofs that had formerly passed by it. Reaching a hill laid down on my former survey, and from which I recognised Mount Laidley, I returned directly to the camp. We had encamped near those very springs mentioned as seen on my former journey, but instead of being limpid and surrounded by verdant grass, as they had been then, they were now trodden by cattle into muddy holes, where the poor natives had been endeavouring to protect a small portion from the cattle’s feet, and keep it pure, by laying over it trees they had cut down for the purpose. The change produced in the aspect of this formerly happy secluded valley, by the intrusion of cattle and the white man, was by no means favourable, and I could easily conceive how I, had I been an aboriginal native, should have felt and regretted that change. The springs which issue from the level plains of clay, while the bed of the water-course some twenty feet lower continues dry and dusty, are numerous. One had a strong taste of sulphur, and might probably be as salubrious as other springs more celebrated. They show that, in this country at least, the water-courses are not supplied by springs, but depend wholly on heavy torrents of rain descending from the mountains. Some holes in the bed of the Goobang Creek did however retain some water which had fallen during the last rain. The thermometer stood at 107° in the tent.
21ST DECEMBER. — Guided by my old friend Bultje, we pursued a straight line of route through the forest to Currandong, which was half way to the Bogan. We passed over a very open, gently undulating country, just heading a gully called Brotherba — showing how well our guide knew the country — and we reached Currandong at 2 o’clock. Here also were two flocks belonging to Dr. Ramsay; Balderudgery, the head station, being fifteen miles distant, by a mountain road through a gap. While travelling this day, Corporal Graham overtook me with letters from Buree, and a cart had also been sent after us by Mr. Barton with a small supply of corn. That country is considered excellent as a fattening run for sheep; the shepherd told me they there find a salt plant, which keeps them in excellent condition and heart for feeding. The scarcity of water at some seasons occasions a conversion here of cattle runs into sheep runs, and VICE VERSÂ, a contingency which seems to render these lands of Hervey’s range of temporary and uncertain value.
22D DECEMBER. — Guided by Bultje we continued to follow down the little chain of ponds which, as he said, led to the Bogan. The road was good — the Currandong ponds running in a general direction about N. N. W. It was the first of the sources of the Bogan we had reached. Crossing at length to its left bank, near an old lambing station of Dr. Ramsay’s, we further on came to a large plain with the Yarra trees of the Bogan upon its western skirts. Some large lagoons on the eastern side of the plains had been filled by the late rains, and cattle lay beside them. We at length arrived in sight of a cattle station of Mr. Templar’s, called Ganànaguy, and encamped on the margin of a plain opposite to it. The cattle here looked very fat, and although the herd comprised about 2000 head, there was abundance of grass. The Bogan thus first appeared on our left hand, and must have its sources in the comparatively low hills, about the country crossed by my former line of route, rather than in Hervey’s or Croker’s ranges, as formerly supposed. The water in the ponds of the Bogan seemed low.
This fine grazing country had been abandoned more than once from the failure of the water, and yet these ponds seemed capable of holding an almost inexhaustible supply. A single dam would have retained the water for miles, the Bogan always flowing through clay in a bed of uniform width and depth like a canal. No doubt a little art and labour would be sufficient to render the land permanently habitable: but on an uncertain tenure this remedy was not likely to be applied, and therefore the sovereignty of art’s dominion remained unasserted there. The incursions of the savage, who is learning to “bide his time” on the Darling, are greatly encouraged by the hardships of the colonists when water is scarce; and I was shown where no less than 800 head of fat bullocks had been run together by them when water was too abundant. Then horses cannot travel, and cattle stick fast in the soft earth and are thus at the mercy of the natives. The stone ovens, such as they prepare for cooking kangaroos, had been used for the consumption of about twenty head of cattle a day, by the wild tribes who had assembled from the Darling and lower Bogan on that occasion. Thermometer in tent 109° at noon, wind W.N.W.
23D DECEMBER. — We crossed the Bogan (flowing eastward) at Mr. Templar’s station at Ganànaguy, and the overseer most hospitably stood by the party as it passed with a bucket of milk, of which he gave a drink to each of the men. Bultje put us on the right road to the next nearest water-holes (Mr. Gilmore’s station), and having rendered me the service he promised, I gave him the tomahawk, pipe, and two figs of tobacco promised him, and also took a sketch of his singularly Socratic face. This native got a bad name from various stockmen, as having been implicated in the murder of Mr. Cunningham. Nothing could be more unfounded; and it must indeed require in a man so situated the wisdom of a Socrates to maintain his footing, or indeed his life, between the ignorant stockmen or shepherds on one hand, and the savage tribes on the other. These latter savages naturally regard those who are half civilised, in the same light as we should look on deserters to the enemy, and are extremely hostile to them, while perhaps even his very usefulness to our party had most unjustly connected this native’s name with the murder of one of our number. His laconic manner and want of language would not admit of any clear explanation of how much he had done to serve our race — and the difficulties he had to encounter with his own; while the circumstance of his having been met with at an interval of ten years in the same valley in a domesticated state, if it did not establish any claim to the soil, at least proved his strong attachment to it, and a settled disposition. Much tact must be necessary on his part to avoid those savages coming by stealth to carry off his gins; and to escape the wrath of white men, when aroused by the aggressions of wild tribes to get up a sort of foray to save or recover their own. How Bultje has survived through all this, without having nine lives like a cat, still to gather honey in his own valley, “surpasseth me to know.”
We encamped at two large water-holes of the Bogan near Mr. Gilmore’s station, and the overseer sent to the men two buckets of milk. At the station a well had been made to the depth of eighty feet, but a flood had come, and risen so high as to wash in the sides and so fill up the well. The workmen had passed through yellow clay chiefly, and the clay was wet and soft when the further sinking was interrupted. Thermometer in my tent 109°, wind W. N. W.
24TH DECEMBER. A lurid haze hung among the trees as the earliest sunbeams shot down amongst them. The party were ready to move off early, but the progress was slow from various impediments. A hot wind blew like a blast furnace. A bullock dropt down dead at the yoke. We encamped on the Currandong, or Back Creek, near a small plain, after travelling about ten miles. Thermometer in tent, 103.° Hot wind from the west.
25TH DECEMBER. Halted to rest the cattle. The wind blew this day more from the northward, and was cooler. Thermometer in tent, 107°.
26TH DECEMBER. — Proceeded to Graddle, a cattle station belonging to Mr. Coss, 2½ miles. Thermometer, 109°.
27TH DECEMBER. — The bullock-drivers having allowed twenty-two of the bullocks to stray, it was impossible to proceed.
At early morning the sky was overcast, the weather calm, a slight wind from the west carried off these clouds, and at about eleven a very hot wind set in. The thermometer in my tent stood at 117°, and when exposed to the wind rose rapidly to 129°, when I feared the thermometer would break as it only reached to 132°.
28TH DECEMBER. — All the cattle having been recovered, we set off early, accompanied by a stockman from Graddle, Mr. Coss’s station. The day was excessively warm, a hot wind blowing from the west. We finally encamped on the Bogan, at a very muddy water-hole, after travelling eleven miles. Thermometer in tent, 115°. At half past five, the sky became overcast, and the hot wind increased to a violent gust, and suddenly fell. I found that tartaric acid would precipitate the mud, leaving a jug of the water tolerably clear, but then the acid remained. Towards evening the sky was overcast, and a few drops of rain fell. The night was uncommonly hot. At ten the thermometer stood at 102°, and at day-break at 90°.
29TH DECEMBER. — The remaining water was so muddy that the cattle would no longer drink it. The sky was overcast, with the wind from south. Finding a cart road near our camp, I lost no time in conducting the lighter portion of our equipment to Mr. Kerr’s station at Derribong. In the hollows I saw, for the first time on this journey, the POLYGONUM JUNCEUM, reminding me of the river Darling, and on the plains a SOLANUM in flower, of which I had only seen the apple formerly. At length, greener grass indicated that the late rains had fallen more heavily there, and at about twelve miles I reached the station situated on a rather clear and elevated part of the right bank of the Bogan. Here the stock of water had been augmented by a small dam, and a channel cut from a hollow part of the clay surface conducted any rain water into the principal pool, where the water was very good. We had now arrived at the lowest station on the Bogan. The line of demarcation between the squatter and the savage had been once much lower down, at Mudà, and even at Nyingan (see INFRA), but the incursions of the blacks had rendered these lower stations untenable, without more support than the Colonial government was able to afford. There, at least, the squatter is not only not the real discoverer of the country, but not even the occupier of what had been discovered. The map will illustrate how it happens that the colonists cannot keep their ground here from the marauding disposition of the savage tribes.7 The Darling is peopled more permanently by these natives, than perhaps any other part of Australia: affording as it does a more certain supply of food. It is only in seasons of very high flood that this food, the fish, cannot be got at, and that they are obliged to resort to the higher country at such seasons, between the Darling, the Lachlan, and the Bogan. It also happens that the cattle of the squatter are most accessible from the soft state of the ground; the stockmen cannot even ride to protect them. The tribes from the Lachlan and Macquarie meet on these higher lands, and when tribes assemble they are generally ready for any mischief. The Bogan is particularly within their reach, and when wet seasons do occur the cattle of squatters must be very much at the mercy of the savages. The tribes from the Darling are extremely hostile, even to the more peaceably disposed hilltribes near the colony, and several stations have already been abandoned in consequence of the outrages of the aborigines from the Darling and Lachlan. Nothing is so likely to increase these evils as the precarious or temporary occupation of such a country. The supply of water must continue uncertain so long as there is no inducement from actual possession to form dams, and by means of art to secure the full benefit of the natural supply. Hence it is that half a million of acres, covered with the finest grass, have been abandoned, and even savages smile at the want of generalship by which they have been allowed to burn the white man’s dairy station and stockyards on the banks of the Bogan. The establishment of a police station near the junction of the Bogan with the Darling, or the formation of an inland township about Fort Bourke, had been sufficient to have secured the stations along the Bogan and Macquarie, and to have protected the Bogan natives as well as our own countrymen from frequent robbery, murder, and insult. Such are the results where SQUATTING has been permitted to supersede settling. With possession, deficiency of water in dry seasons had been remedied, and no such debateable land had remained on the borders of a British colony.
7 [See map of Eastern Australia — INFRA.]
The part of the Bogan where least water can be found, has always been that between our present camp and Mudà, a very large lagoon about 50 miles lower down. I found by the barometer that there is a fall of 206 feet in that distance of 50 miles; whereas the fall in the bed of the Bogan is only 50 feet between Mudà and New Year’s Range, in a distance of upwards of 100 miles. The general course of the Bogan changes at Mudà from N.W. to north, the former being nearly in the direction of the general declination of the country, the latter rather across it, of which the overflowings of the parallel river Macquarie into Duck Creek, and other channels to the westward, seemed to afford sufficient proofs. Where the declination is least, the water is most likely to remain in ponds in the channel of the river after floods, the water of which can neither flow with so much velocity, nor bear down any of the obstructions by which ponds are formed. Mr. Dixon found the velocity of the Bogan at this part, during a flood in 1833, to be four miles in an hour; which is about double the average rate of the larger rivers of Australia.
I had an order from Mr. Kerr, the proprietor of this station of Derribong, to his superintendant, for such fat cattle as I might require to take with me as live stock. Finding that the sheep answered very well, having lost none, and that they rather improved in travelling, whereas the working oxen had been much jaded and impoverished by the long journey, heavy loads, and warm weather; I determined to take as many young bullocks as might suffice to relieve and assist the others, and break them in as we proceeded.
30TH DECEMBER. — The wind changed to S.E., and brought a cool morning. Thermometer, 68°. This day we selected from the herds of Mr. Kerr 32 young bullocks, and they were immediately yoked up in the stockyard.
Received letters from Sydney, by Corporal Graham.
31ST DECEMBER, 1845. — Thermometer at 5 A. M., 62°: at noon, 109°. Wind S.E. At noon a whirlwind passed over the camp, fortunately avoiding the tents in its course; but it carried a heavy tarpaulin into the air, also some of the men’s hats, and broke a half-hour sand-glass, much wanted for the men on watch at night. The sky overcast from the west in the evening.
1ST JANUARY, 1846. — A strong wind from N.E. blew during the day, and was very high at 11 A. M. The party were chiefly employed breaking in the young bullocks. At noon, nimbus, and some rain, tantalised us with the hope of a change; but the sky drew up into clouds of cumulus by the evening. The vegetation of the Bogan now recalled former labours: the ATRIPLEX SEMIBACCATA of Brown was a common straggling plant.
2D JANUARY. — The young cattle still occasioned delay. The morning was cloudy and promised rain; but a N.W. wind broke through the clouds, which resolved themselves into cirrostratus, and we had heat again. Besides the SALSOLA AUSTRALIS, we found a HALGANIA with lilac flowers, probably distinct from the species hitherto described, which are natives of the south-west coast.
3D JANUARY. — This morning the young cattle were yoked up with the old; and, after considerable delay, the party proceeded to some ponds in the Bogan about five miles lower down. We were now nearly opposite to the scene of Mr. Cunningham’s disasters: I had recognised, amongst the first hills I saw when on the Goobang Creek, the hill which I had named Mount Juson, at his request, after the maiden name of his mother. The little pyramid of bushes was no longer there, but the name of Cunningham was so identified with the botanical history of almost all the shrubs in the very peculiar scenery of that part of the country, that no other monument seemed necessary. Other recollections recalled Cunningham to my mind; his barbarous murder, and the uncertainty which still hung over the actual circumstances attending it. The shrubs told indeed of Cunningham; of both brothers, both now dead; but neither the shrubs named by the one, nor the gloomy CASUARINOE trees that had witnessed the bloody deed, could tell more. There the ACACIA PENDULA, first discovered and described by Allan, could only
“Like a weeping mourner stooping stand, For ever silent, and for ever sad.”
4TH JANUARY. — The early cooler part of the morning was taken up with the young cattle. It was now but too obvious that this means of conveyance was likely to retard the journey to an extent that no pecuniary saving would compensate, as compared with light carts and horses. I proceeded forward in search of a deserted stockyard, called Tabbaratong, where some water was said still to remain. We found some mud and water only; although some that was excellent was found about two miles lower down the Bogan, late in the evening.
We had crossed the neutral ground between the savage and the squatter. The advanced posts of an army are not better kept, and humiliating proofs that the white man had given way, were visible in the remains of dairies burnt down, stockyards in ruins, untrodden roads. We hoped to find within the territory of the native, ponds of clear water, unsoiled by cattle, and a surface on which we might track our own stray animals, without their being confused by the traces of others.
5TH JANUARY. — Three of the young cattle having escaped during the night, retarded us in the morning until 8 o’clock, at which hour they were brought into the camp, having been tracked by Yuranigh, a most useful native who had come with us from Buree. I proceeded with the light carts, guided by a very young native boy, not more than ten years old, who had come with the party from Kerr’s station, and who, being a native of the lower Bogan, could tell us where water was likely to be found. Our route was rather circuitous, chiefly to avoid a thick scrub of CALLITRIS and other trees, which, having been recently burnt, presented spikes so thickly set together, that any way round them seemed preferable to going through. We reached plains, and came upon an old track of the squatters. The grass in parts was green and rich. I could see no traces of my former route, but we arrived at length at an open spot which Dicky, the young native, said was “Cadduldury.” Leaving Dr. Stephenson with the people driving the light carts there, I proceeded towards the bed of the Bogan, which was near, to see what water was there, and following the channel downwards, I met with none. Still I rode on, accompanied by Piper (also on horseback), and the dryness of the bed had forbidden further search, but that I remembered the large ponds we had formerly seen at Bugabadà and Mudà, which could not be far distant. But it was only after threading the windings of the Bogan, in a ride of at least twelve miles, that we arrived at the most eastern of the Bugabadà ponds. The water was however excellent, purer indeed than any we had seen for many days, and we hastened back to the party at Cadduldury, which place we only arrived at as darkness came on, so that Piper had nearly lost his way. The drays with Mr. Kennedy had not come up, and I sent William Baldock and Yuranigh back in haste to inform him that I was encamped without water, and that I wished him, if still EN ROUTE, immediately to unyoke the cattle, encamp on a grassy spot, and have them watched in their yokes during the night, and to come forward at earliest dawn to the water-holes I had found near Bugabadà. We passed a miserable night without water at Cadduldury.
6TH JANUARY. — William Baldock returned at daybreak, bringing a message from Mr. Kennedy, saying he should do as I had requested. I went forward with the light party, and reached the water-holes by 8 A. M.. The morning happened to be extremely hot, which, under the want of water and food the preceding evening, made Drysdale very ill, and John Douglas and Isaac Reid were scarcely able to walk when we arrived at the first water-hole. But how the jaded bullocks were to draw the heavy loads thus far in the extreme heat, was a subject of anxious thought to me. William Baldock again returned to Mr. Kennedy with two barrels of water on a horse, a horn full of tea, etc. On his way he met six of the drays, the drivers of which were almost frantic and unable to do their work from thirst. He brought me back intelligence that Mr. Kennedy still remained at his encampment, with the two remaining drays, whereof the drivers (Mortimer and Bond) had allowed their teams, with bows, yokes, and chains, to escape, although each driver had been expressly ordered to watch his own team during the night. This was a most serious misfortune to the whole party. The rest of the drays could not be brought as far as my camp, but I ordered the cattle to be released and driven forward to the water, which they reached by the evening, sufficient guards being left with the drays. The shepherd with the sheep could not get so far as the water, and the poor fellow had almost lost his senses, when Mr. Stephenson, who had hastened back with several bottles, relieved his thirst, and, as the man said, “saved his life.”
Our position might indeed have been critical, had the natives been hostile, or as numerous as I had formerly seen them at that very part of the Bogan. Separated into three parties, and exhausted with thirst and heat, the men and the drays might have been easily assailed. No natives, however, molested us; and I subsequently found that the tribe, with which I was on very friendly terms there formerly, were still amicably disposed towards us.
7TH JANUARY. — Early this morning, M’Avoy brought in the spare bullocks, having been sent forward by Mr. Kennedy to travel on during the night. The shoemaker also brought in one of the lost teams and part of the other. I sent back, by Baldock, this morning, water for the men in charge of the drays, and some tea and bread for Mr. Kennedy. He would also have gone in search of the four bullocks still missing, but Mr. Kennedy sent him again to me to procure something to eat. The drays carrying the provisions had not come up, and my party too was short. The day surpassed in heat any I had ever seen: the thermometer at noon in the shade stood at 109°, a gentle hot wind blowing. The camp of Mr. Kennedy was distant at least 16 miles from mine near Bugabadà.
The six drays came in about 4 P. M.; the sheep not until long after dark. Bread, gelatine, and ten gallons of water were sent back to Mr. Kennedy, and a memorandum from me apprising him of my arrangement for drawing forward the two drays, which he had taken such good care of, and which was as follows: Two teams to leave my camp on the evening of next day, to be attached on their arrival to the two drays with which they were to come forward, travelling by moonlight during the rest of the night, until they should be met by two other fresh teams, destined to meet them early next morning. Also I informed Mr. Kennedy that it was not my intention to send after the four stray bullocks until the drays came in, and the party could be again united. Thermometer again 109° in the shade all day.
The CALOTIS CUNEIFOLIA was conspicuous amongst the grass. This was the common BURR, so detrimental to the Australian wool. Small as are the capitula of this flower, its seeds or achenia are armed with awns having reflexed hooks scarcely visible to the naked eye; it is these that are found so troublesome among the wool.
8TH JANUARY. — The messenger returned from Mr. Kennedy saying he had found him and the men with him, in a state of great distress from want of water, having given great part of what had formerly been sent to a young dying bullock, in hopes thereby to save its life. He also stated that a tribe of natives were on their track about three miles behind. Baldock had seen several bullocks dead on the way. In the evening the two first teams were sent off as arranged. This day had also been very sultry, especially towards evening.
9TH JANUARY. — Early this morning, the two relieving teams were despatched as arranged, and at noon Mr. Kennedy and the whole entered the camp. We had been very fortunate, under such trying circumstances, to suffer so little loss, and I determined never to move the party again, until I could ascertain where the water was at which it should encamp. I had been previously assured by the young native that water was still to be found at Cadduldury, and the disappointment had nearly proved fatal to the whole party.
On the banks of the Bogan, the ATRIPLEX HAGNOIDES formed a round white-looking bush.
I rode forward to Mudà, accompanied by Dr. Stephenson and by Piper, and had an interview with some of the heads of the old tribe, who remembered my former visit, and very civilly accompanied me to show me my old track and marked trees, which I found passed a little to the northward of my present encampment. The chief, my old friend, had been killed in a fight with the natives of the Macquarie, not long before. Two old grey-haired men sitting silent in a gunya behind, were pointed out to me as his brothers, one of whom so very much resembled him, that I had at first imagined he was the man himself. These sat doubled up on their hams opposite to each other, under the withered bushes, naked, and grey, and melancholy — sad and hopeless types of their fading race!
The chief who formerly guided us so kindly had fallen in a hopeless struggle for the existence of his tribe with the natives of the river Macquarie, allied with the border police, on one side; and the wild natives of the Darling on the other. All I could learn about the rest of the tribe was, that the men were almost all dead, and that their wives were chiefly servants at stock stations along the Macquarie.
The natives of Mudà assured me there was no water nearer than Nyingan, a large pond which I knew was 22 1/3 miles distant, in a direct line lower down the Bogan. The ponds of Mudà, their great store of water, and known to white men as the largest on the Bogan, were alarmingly low, and it became evident that our progress under such a scarcity of water would be attended with difficulty. These natives gave us also a friendly hint that “GENTLEMEN” should be careful of the spears of the natives of Nyingan, as many natives of Nyingan had been shot lately by white men from Wellington Valley.
Among the woods we observed the white-flowered TEUCRIUM RACEMOSUM, the JUSTICIA MEDIA, a small herbaceous plant with deep pink flowers; also a STENOCHILUS and FUSANUS (the Quandang), although not in fruit; a new species of STIPA, remarkable for its fine silky ears and coarse rough herbage.8 This place produced also a fine new species of Chloris in the way of C. TRUNCATA, but with upright ears, and hard three-ribbed pales,9 and we here observed, for the first time, a fine new EREMOPHILA with white flowers, forming a tree fifteen feet high.10 The beautiful DAMASONIUM OVALIFOLIUM, with white flowers red in the centre, still existed in the water.
8 [S. SCABRA (Lindl. MS.), aristis nudis, paleis pubescentibus basi villosis, glumis setaceo-acuminatis glabris, foliis scabropilosis involutis culmis brevioribus, geniculis pubescentibus, ligulâ oblongâ subciliatâ.]
9 [C. SCLERANTHA (Lindl. MS.), culmo stricto, foliis planis glabris tactu scabris, spicis 4 — 7-strictis, spiculis bifloris, flore utroque breviaristato cartilagineo truncato 3-nervi glabro supremo sterili vacuo.]
10 [E. MITCHELLI (Benth. MS.), glabra viscidula, foliis alternis linearibus planis, corolla alba extus glabra fauce amplo laciniis 4 superioribus subaequalibus infima majore retusa, staminibus inclusis.]
In the evening it was discovered that no one had seen the shepherd and the sheep since the morning, and Piper and Yuranigh went in search. It was night ere they returned with the intelligence that they had found his track ten miles off to the S. W. when darkness prevented them from following it further.
I ascertained, by observations of the stars Aldebaran and Orionis, that out present camp near Bugabadà was in latitude 31° 56’, and thus very near the place where Mr. Dixon’s journey down the Bogan in 1833 had terminated. Thermometer at noon, 90°; at 9 P. M., 70°; with wet bulb, 63°.
10TH JANUARY. — Early this morning Mr. Kennedy and Piper went to the S. W. in search of the shepherd and sheep, while at the same time I sent William Baldock and Yaranigh back along our track in search of the stray bullocks. Meanwhile I conducted the party along my former track to Mudà, where we met Mr. Kennedy and Piper with the shepherd and sheep, already arrived there. The shepherd stated that the fatigue of having been on watch the previous night had overcome him; that he fell asleep, and that the sheep went astray; that he followed and found them, but lost himself. He had met one or two natives who offered him honey, etc. which he declined.
We encamped beside the old stock-yard and the ruins of a dairy, only visible in the remaining excavation. But a paddock was still in such a state of preservation, that in one day we completed the enclosure. We had passed near Bugabadà similar remains of a cattle station. This position of Mudà was a fine place for such an establishment; a high bank nearly clear of timber, overlooking a noble reach of great capacity, and surrounded by an open forest country, covered with luxuriant grass. The last crop stood up yellow, like a neglected field of oats, in the way of a young crop shooting up amongst it.
11TH JANUARY, 1846. — Sunday. Prayers were read to the men, and the cattle and party rested. The day was cool and cloudy.
12TH JANUARY. — Still I halted at Mudà for the lost bullocks. To-day I noticed the KOCHIA BREVIFOLIA, a little salt-bush, with greenish yellow fruit, edged with pink.
13TH JANUARY. — Baldock and Yuranigh arrived early in the morning (by moonlight) with five of the stray bullocks. Two others (young ones) could not be driven along, and one old bullock was still astray at Mr. Kerr’s station (to which they had returned) and could not even then be found. We had now in all 106 bullocks, and, considering the great scarcity of water, heat, and consequent drought, I was most thankful that our loss had been so slight.
I proceeded to reconnoitre the country in a straight line towards Nyingan, which bore 353°— and having found a tolerably open country for about six miles, I returned and took the party on so far, and encamped, sending back all the cattle and horses to the water at Mudà. Enough had been carried forward for the men who were to remain at the camp. To ensure the early return of the cattle, I had repaired, as already stated, the paddock at Mudà, in which during this night, they could be secured, having also sufficient grass — likewise the horses. In my ride I found a new grass of the genus CHLORIS11, something like CHL. TRUNCATA in habit, some starved specimens of TRICHINIUM LANATUM; amongst the grasses I also found the ARISTIDA CALYCINA of Brown, the curious NEURACHNE MITCHELLIANA Nees, discovered originally by me in 1836, and also a new PAPPOPHORUM with the aspect of our European Anthoxanthum.12 A smart shower fell during the evening.
11 [C. ACICULARIS (Lindl. MS.); culmo stricto, foliis involutis glabris tactu scabris, spicis 8 — 9 subacutis, spiculis bifloris, flore utroque setaceo aristato, supremo sterili angustissimo, paleis dorso scabris.]
12 [P. FLAVESCENS (Lindl. MS.); aristis 9 rigidis pallidis plumosis, spicâ compositâ densissimâ oblongâ, paleis lanatis, glumis ovatis pilosis, foliis vaginisque pubescentibus tactu scabris, geniculis villosis.]
14TH JANUARY. — The cattle arrived early from Mudà, and were immediately yoked to the drays. I proceeded with the light carts, still on the same bearing, until arriving near Dar, where I had formerly been encamped, I turned to the left to ascertain if there really was no water there. I found two excellent ponds, and encamped beside them after a journey of about ten miles. The drays arrived early and I subsequently found I had encamped near my old ground of 9th May, 1835, when I was guided by the friendly chief of the Bogan tribe to the best water holes his country afforded. By the route I had selected from my former surveys, I had cut off the great bend described by the Bogan in changing from a north-westerly to a northerly course, and the track now left by our wheels will probably continue to be used as a road, when the banks of the Bogan may be again occupied by the colonists. At Darwere still most substantial stock-yards, and, as usual, the deep dug foundations of a dairy that had been burnt down.
15TH JANUARY. — Eight bullocks were missing, and although the day was fine, not too hot, I could not think of moving until these cattle were found. Accordingly, at earliest dawn, I despatched William Baldock and the native to look for them. In the course of the day six were found by Baldock in one direction, and the remaining two, afterwards, in another. An inconspicuous blue-flowered Erigeron grew here, also the JASMINUM LINEARE, with its sweet-scented white flowers — and, near the water, I saw the ALTERNANTHERA NODIFLORA.
16TH JANUARY. — At a good early hour the party moved from Dar, crossing the Bogan and falling into my former track and line of marked trees. We lost these, however, on crossing the Bogan at Murgabà, and made a slight détour to the eastward before we found Nyingan, where we encamped, and were joined by the drays by twelve o’clock. During this day’s journey Piper and Yuranigh discovered fresh traces of horsemen with those of the feet of a native guide, come from the East to my old track, and returning, apparently, as our natives thought, looking for traces of our party.
At Nyingan we found many recent huts and other indications of the natives, but saw none. Large stock-yards and a paddock remained, but a house and garden fences had been burnt down. The great ponds were sunken very low and covered with aquatic weeds. As soon as the camp had been established with the usual attention to defence, I set out to look for the next water, and after riding twelve miles nearly in the direction of my former route, I reached the dry channel of the Bogan, and tracing it thence upwards, I sought in every hollow at all its turnings for water, but in vain, and I reached the camp only at dusk, without having seen, during the day, any other ponds than those of Nyingan.
17TH JANUARY. — Early this morning, I sent Mr. Kennedy with the native Yuranigh, also on horseback, to run back my track of yesterday to the Bogan where I had commenced its examination upwards, and from that point to examine the channel downwards to the nearest water, provided this did not take Mr. Kennedy too far to admit of his return by sunset. Two old women came to the ponds of Nyingan for water, by whom Piper was told that the nearest permanent water was “NIMINÉ,” where white men had attempted to form a cattle-station, and been prevented by natives from the Darling, many of whom had since been shot by the white men. They said the place was far beyond Canbelego, the next stage of my former journey, and where these women also said little or no water remained.
Mr. Kennedy returned at eleven A.M., having found water at Canbelego. Yuranigh brought with him a large green specimen of the fruit of the CAPPARIS MITCHELLII, which he called an apple, being new to him, but which Dicky, the younger native from the Lower Bogan, knew, and said was called “MOGUILE;” he also said that it was eaten by the natives.
18TH JANUARY. — The party moved to Canbelego where one or two small ponds remained, but on the plains adjacent there was better grass than we had hitherto found near those places where, for the sake of water, we had been obliged to encamp. I sent Mr. Kennedy again forward looking for water, but he returned sooner than I expected, and after following the river down twelve miles, without finding any. I was now within the same distance of Duck Creek, in which Mr. Larmer had found abundance of water when I sent him to survey it upwards during my last return journey up the Bogan. It also seemed, from the direction in which Piper pointed, that the old gins referred to Duck Creek, as containing water; and as the course of that creek, so far as shown on maps, led even more directly to the Darling than did the Bogan, I was willing in such a season of extreme drought, to avail myself of its waters. My eye had been much injured by straining at stars while at the camp near Walwadyer, and I was obliged to send Mr. Kennedy on one of my own horses, followed by Graham, to examine the water in Duck Creek. I instructed him to proceed on a bearing of 35° E. of North, until he should reach the creek, and if he found water in it to return direct to the camp, but that if water was not found on first making the creek, then he was to follow Duck Creek up to its junction with an eastern branch, surveyed also by Mr. Larmer, and to return thence to the camp on a bearing of 240°. I also sent Corporal Macavoy with Yuranigh down the Bogan, to ascertain if the channel contained any pond between our camp and the part previously examined by Mr. Kennedy.
This officer returned from Duck Creek after an absence of twelve hours, and reported that he had found no water in Duck Creek after examining its bed twelve miles; but that he had found a fine lagoon on the plains near the head of the eastern branch, but around which there was no grass, all having been recently burnt.
20TH JANUARY. — Macavoy returned at seven A.M., saying he had been twenty-four miles down the Bogan without finding any water. About the same time Sergeant Niblett, in charge of the bullocks, came to inform me that these animals were looking very ill, and could not drink the mud remaining in the pond. At the same time intelligence was brought me that four of the horses had broken their tether ropes during the night, and that William Baldock had been absent in search of them on foot, from an early hour in the morning. I immediately sent back the whole of the bullocks to Nyingan, with a dray containing the empty harness casks, also the horses, and a cart carrying all our other empty casks; and the whole of the cattle and horses returned in the evening with all the casks filled.
21ST JANUARY. — Having again despatched the bullocks back to Nyingan, I conducted the light carts forward along my old track (of 1835), having on two of these carts two of the half-boats, and in the carts under them all the water-kegs that had been filled. My object was to use the iron boat as a tank, at which we might water the bullocks at one stage forward; that by so gaining that point and proceeding onwards towards the water I hoped to find next day, we might encamp at least at such a convenient distance from it, as would admit of the cattle being driven forward to return next day and draw the drays to it. This I considered possible, even if it might be found necessary to go as far for water as the fine reach described in my journal as the place of my encampment on the 14th May, 1835, beyond Mount Hopeless, and which I concluded from the gin’s description, must have been what she called Nimine, or the disputed station of Lee. I encamped this party on a plain about twelve miles from Canbelego, where I had left Mr. Kennedy, with instructions to bring the drays on with the spare cattle and horses early next morning. I had sent thence Corporal Macavoy and Yuranigh to follow the track of Baldock and the horses; but it was obvious that we could remain no longer at Canbelego. As soon as we could set up one of the half-boats, the contents of the water-kegs were emptied into it, and the cart was immediately sent back with the empty kegs to Canbelego, where fresh horses had been left, to continue with the same cart and empty kegs to Nyingan during the night, so as to arrive in time to admit of the dray — already there with the harness casks — bringing an additional supply back in the kegs, when the bullocks returned next day.
It was now necessary that I should ascertain as soon as possible the state of the ponds lower down the Bogan, and thereupon determine at once, whether to follow that dry channel further in such a season, or to cross to the pond in Duck Creek, and await more favourable weather. I accordingly set out at 3 P.M., from where the water had been placed in the half-boat, accompanied by Dr. Stephenson, and followed by Corporal Graham and Dicky the native boy. By the advice of the latter, I rode from the camp in the direction of 30° E. of N., and, crossing the Bogan, we reached at about 3½ miles beyond it, a channel like it, which I supposed was Duck Creek; and in it, just where we made it, there was a small pond of water. Having refreshed our horses, we followed this channel downwards, without meeting with more water. To my surprise, I found the general direction was westward, until it JOINED THE BOGAN. We next followed the course of the Bogan as long as daylight allowed us to do so, without discovering any indication that water had recently lodged in any of the hollows, and we finally tied up our horses and lay down to sleep, in hopes that next day might enable us to be more successful.
22D JANUARY. — Having proceeded some miles along the western bends of the Bogan, hastily — being desirous to see that day the great pond beyond Mount Hopeless — I observed that the clay was very shining and compact in a hollow sloping into an angle of the river-bed, that the grass was green as from recent rain, and that there was more chirping of birds; I was tempted once more by these indications, to look for water in the Bogan’s almost hopeless channel, and there we found a pond, at sight of which poor Dicky shouted for joy; then drank, and fell asleep almost in the water. It was small, but being sufficient for our immediate wants, we thankfully refreshed our horses and ourselves, and proceeded on our eventful journey. Almost immediately after leaving this pond I discovered my old track, which we continued to follow across those large plains, whence I had formerly discovered Mount Hopeless. These plains I soon again recognized from the old tracks of my draywheels, distinctly visible in many places after a lapse of nearly eleven years. Arriving at length near the debateable land of Lee’s old station, we resumed our examination of the Bogan. There we perceived old cattle tracks; the ovens in which the natives had roasted whole bullocks, and about their old encampments many heaps of bones; but in none of the deep beds of former ponds or lagoons could we discover any water. The grass was nevertheless excellent and abundant; and its waste, added to the distress the want of water occasioned us, made us doubly lament the absence of civilised inhabitants, by whose industry that rich pasture and fine soil could have been turned to good account. We saw no natives; nor were even kangaroos or emus to be seen, as formerly, any longer inhabitants of these parts. I turned at length, reluctantly, convinced that it would have been unsafe to venture with cattle and drays into these regions before rain fell. In returning, we at first found it difficult to find our old track, by which alone we could hope that night to reach the small pond of the morning; but Dr. Stephenson very fortunately found it, and we had also the good fortune, for so we considered it, to arrive at the pond before sunset. There we tied up our horses and lay down, glad indeed to have even that water before our eyes. Dicky, the native boy, had repeatedly thrown himself from his horse during the afternoon, quite ill from thirst.
23D JANUARY. — After our horses had drank, we left no water in the pond; but they had fed on good grass, and we were well refreshed, although with water only, for our ride back to the camp. Setting off from an old marked tree of mine near the Bogan, on a bearing of 160°, I several times during our ride fell in with the old track, and finally reached the camp after a rapid ride of four hours. I found the whole party had arrived the previous evening with the water, as arranged; but that Mr. Kennedy was absent, having set off that morning in search of water to the N. E. with Corporal Macavoy, on two government horses, leaving word that he should return by twelve o’clock. He did not return at that hour, however, and at two I moved the party across the Bogan, and proceeded along open plains towards the ponds at Duck Creek, with the intention of there refreshing the cattle and horses, and awaiting more favourable weather. I previously watered out of the half-boat, 106 bullocks, and gave a quart to each of the horses. On the way, the heat was so intense that our three best and strongest kangaroo dogs died, and it was not until 10 P. M. that the drays reached the ponds where I had proposed to encamp. About an hour and a half before, Mr. Kennedy also came in, having galloped the two horses 66 miles, and hurt both their backs, Macavoy being a heavy man. At 9 P. M., therm. 80°, wet bulb, 68°.
24TH JANUARY. — This morning I awoke completely blind, from ophthalmia, and was obliged to have poultices laid on my eyes; several of the men were also affected in the same manner. The exciting cause of this malady in an organ presenting a moist surface was, obviously, the warm air wholly devoid of moisture, and likely to produce the same effect until the weather changed. At 9 P. M., therm. 84°, with wet bulb, 68°.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:52