On the 14th of May, 1858, Mr. Stuart started from Oratunga (the head station of Mr. John Chambers), accompanied by Mr. Barker, with six horses, and all that was requisite (with one important exception, as will be seen hereafter), for an excursion to the north-west of Swinden’s Country. They arrived at Aroona the same evening. On the following day (the 15th) they made Morleeanna Creek, and reached Ootaina on the 16th, about 7 p.m. Here they remained for a couple of days, as sufficient rain had not fallen to enable them to proceed. On the afternoon of the 19th they arrived at Mr. Sleep’s, who informed them that Mr. M. Campbell had returned from the West, being hard pushed for water; very little rain having fallen to the west. The next day (20th) Mr. Stuart arrived at Mr. Louden’s, but, in consequence of some difficulties about the horses, he returned to Ootaina. Various preparations, combined with want of rain, compelled him to delay his start until the 10th of June. Here the journal commences:—
Thursday, 10th June, 1858. Started from Ootaina at 1 p.m. for Beda. Camped on the plain, about thirteen miles from Mount Eyre.
Friday, 11th June, West Plain. Made Mudleealpa at 11 a.m. The horses would not drink the water. Proceeded for about five miles towards Beda. The plains are fearfully dry; they have the appearance as if no rain had fallen here for a long time, and I am very much afraid there will be no water at Beda. If such should be the case, the horses will suffer too much in the beginning of their journey to be without a drink to-night. I think it will be best to return to Mudleealpa, leave our saddles, rations, etc. there, and drive the horses back to water. I sent Mr. Forster back with them, telling him if he can find no water between this and Mr. Sleep’s, to take them there, remain for the night, give them a drink in the morning, and return; we shall then be able to make a fresh start tomorrow. Bearings: Mount Arden, 154 degrees 30 minutes; Mount Eyre, 77 degrees 30 minutes; Beda Hill, 272 degrees; Mount Elder, 64 degrees 50 minutes; Dutchman’s Stern, 162 degrees 15 minutes.
Saturday, 12th June, Mudleealpa. In examining the creek a little higher up, we found another well. By cleaning it out, the water is drinkable. The horses did not arrive until it was too late to start, and having water here now, that they can drink, we camped here another night.
Sunday, 13th June, Mudleealpa. Started for Beda. Some of the horses would not drink the water, and others drank very little: they will be glad to drink far worse than this before they come back, or I am much mistaken. Arrived at Beda at sundown. I was right in my opinion; no fresh water to be found; nothing but salt, salter than the sea. I can see nothing of Mr. Babbage’s encampment; he must be higher up the creek. All the country we have come over today is very dry.8
Monday, 14th June, Beda. This morning we have searched all round, but can find no fresh water, although there are numerous places that would retain water if any quantity had fallen. Mr. Forster, whom I had sent up the creek to Mr. Babbage’s, to inquire if there was any water at Pernatta, has returned with the information that Mr. B. was up there with all his horses, and that there was still a little water, but not much. Started at 11.30 a.m. for that place; camped in the sand hills one hour after dark. Here we found some pig-faces which the horses eat freely.9 There is a great deal of moisture in them, and they are a first-rate thing for thirsty horses; besides, they have a powerful diuretic effect. I was unable to fix Beda Hill, all my time being taken up in looking for water, but I hope to get its position at Pernatta. The country was very heavy — sand hills.
Tuesday, 15th June, Sand Hills. Started at break of day for Pernatta. About 10 a.m. met Mr. Babbage’s two men returning with some of the horses for rations. They informed me that the water was nearly all gone, but that there was plenty in the Elizabeth, nineteen miles from Pernatta. I intended to keep on the track, but our black insisted that Pernatta lay through a gap, and not round the bluff. I allowed him to have his own way. Our route was through a very stony saddle. When there we saw a gum creek, and made for it; when we arrived at the creek he told us that was Pernatta. We looked for water, and found a little hole, which, to our great disappointment, contained salt water. Could see nothing of Mr. Babbage’s camp. I then asked our black where there was another water; he said, “Down the creek,” which we followed. He took us to five or six water holes, with native names, every one dry. The last one he called Yolticourie. It being now within an hour of sundown, I would follow him no longer, but unsaddled, and told Mr. Forster to take the black and the horses, and to steer for the bluff; if he found no water between, to intersect Mr. Babbage’s tracks, and follow them up and get water. I remained with our provisions. The black fellow evidently does not know the country. I am sorry that I have taken him with me. I think I shall send him back; he is of little use in assisting to get the horses in the morning.
Wednesday, 16th June, Yolticourie. The horses have returned; they found no water last night; they were obliged to camp for the night, it being so dark, but they found Mr. Babbage’s camp very early. The horses drank all the water. I was wrong in blaming the black fellow; he took us to the RIGHT Pernatta. It is another water that Mr. B. is encamped at. He moves today for the Elizabeth, which I also will do. He found the remains of poor Coulthard yesterday. We must have passed quite close to them in our search for water. He has sent for me to come and assist at the burial. It being so late in the day (12 o’clock), and the horses requiring more water, and he having four men besides himself, I do not see that I can be of any use, and it might cause me to lose another day, and the horses to be another night without water, which would be an injury to them, they not having had sufficient this morning. Mr. B. also sent to say that he would accompany me to the Elizabeth. I have delayed an hour for him, and he has not yet made his appearance; it being now 1 o’clock, and having to travel seventeen miles, I can wait no longer. Started for Bottle Hill; arrived on the south side of the hill an hour and a half before sundown, found some water and plenty of grass; encamped for the night. Distance today, seventeen miles. The former part of the journey was over very stony country; the latter part very heavy sand hills.
Thursday, 17th June, Bottle Hill. Got on the top of Bottle Hill to take bearings, but was disappointed; could see no hill except one, which was either Mount Deception or Mount North-west; the bearing was 51 degrees 30 minutes. There is a small cone of stones on the top, and a flat stone on the top of it, with the names of Louden and Burtt. From here I saw the gum trees in the Elizabeth; course to them 325 degrees 30 minutes, seven miles to the creek. The country from the hill here is of the very worst description — nothing but sand and salt bush.
Friday, 18th June, The Elizabeth. We must rest our horses today, they have not yet recovered from their long thirst. I am quite disappointed with this creek and the surrounding country. The water is not permanent, it is only rain water; since we arrived yesterday it has shrunk a great deal. There are small plains on each side from a quarter to half a mile broad with salt bush; the hills are very stony with a little salt bush, and destitute of timber, except the few gum-trees in the creek and the mulga bushes in the sand hills.
Saturday, 19th June, The Elizabeth. The sky was quite overcast with cloud during the night, and a few drops of rain fell, but of no consequence. Started at 9.30 a.m., on a bearing of 308 degrees for six miles; changed the bearing to 355 degrees for one mile and a half; next bearing 328 degrees for four miles, to the north side of a dry swamp; next bearing 4 degrees for ten miles and a half; next bearing 350 degrees for four miles to a sand hill. Camped. Distance today, twenty-five miles, over a very bad country, with large fragments of a hard flinty stone covering the surface. Salt bush with small sand hills. No water.
Sunday, 20th June, Sand Hill. Started at 9 a.m., on a course of 25 degrees for sixteen miles. At 1 p.m., came upon a creek, in which I thought there might be water; examined it and found two water holes, with plenty of grass upon their banks. The water is not permanent. Our course today has been across stony plains (covered on the surface with fragments resembling hard white quartz), with sand hills about two miles broad dividing them. The black did not know of this water; I am very doubtful of his knowing anything of the country. The stony plains are surrounded by high heavy sand hills, especially to the west and north-west; I dare not attempt to get through them without rain. They are much higher than the country that I am travelling through. It seems as if there had been no rain for twelve months, every thing is so dried and parched up. On further examination of the creek we have found a large hole of clear water, with rushes growing round it; I almost think it is permanent, and intend to run the risk of falling back upon it should I be forced to retreat and wait for rain. The creek seems to drain the large stony plains that we crossed; the water is three and a half feet deep, ten yards wide, by forty yards long.
Monday, 21st June, Water Creek. Started at 9.30 a.m. on a course of 25 degrees. At a mile passed a small table-topped hill to the west of our line; at three miles and a half crossed the creek; at four miles passed another table-topped hill connected with the low range to the east, and passed the first ironstone hill; at seven miles changed to 55 degrees; at eight miles halted at a large permanent water hole (Andamoka). I can with safety say that this is permanent; it is a splendid water hole, nearly as large as the one at the mouth of the gorge in the John. The low range to the east of our course, and running nearly parallel with it, is composed of conglomerate, quartz, and a little ironstone. Part of today’s journey was over low undulating sandy and very well grassed country. There seems to have been a little rain here lately; the grass is springing beautifully. At eleven miles we came upon a salt lagoon (Wealaroo) two miles long by one broad. From the north end of it, on a bearing of 55 degrees, one mile and a half will strike Andamoka. I think we have now left the western sand hills behind us; and now that we have permanent water to fall back on, I shall strike into the north-west tomorrow. The distance travelled today was fifteen miles. The country around this water consists of bold stony rises and sand, with salt bush and grass; no timber except mulga and a few myall bushes in the creek. On an examination of the creek, we have found salt water above and below this hole. In one place above there are cakes of salt one inch and a half thick, a convincing proof that this is supplied by springs.
Tuesday, 22nd June, Andamoka. Started on a bearing of 342 degrees. At seven miles and a half, crossed a low stony range running east-north-east and west-south-west, which turned out to be table land, with sand hills crossing our line, bearing to a high range east of us 93 degrees 30 minutes. About eight miles in the same direction there is the appearance of a long salt lake. At nine miles and a half, on a sand hill, I obtained the following bearings: Mount North-west, 60 degrees 30 minutes; Mount Deception, 95 degrees. At eleven miles and a half passed a large reedy swamp on our left, dry. At seventeen miles sand hills ceased. At eighteen miles and a half the sand hills again commenced, and we changed our course to north for three miles. Camped for the night at a creek of permanent water, very good. The last four miles of today’s journey have been over very stony rises with salt bush and a little grass.
Wednesday, 23rd June, Permanent Water Creek. The horses had strayed so far that we did not get a start until 10 a.m. Bearing today, 318 degrees. At two miles crossed a tea-tree creek, in which there is water, coming from the stony rises, and running to the north of east. At six miles the sand hills again commence. To this place we have come over a stony plain, covered on the surface with fragments of limestone, quartz, and ironstone, with salt bush and grass. In a watery season it must be well covered with grass; the old grass is lying between the salt bushes. We have a view of part of the lake (Torrens) bearing north-east about fifteen or twenty miles from us; to the west again the stony rises, apparently more open. At ten miles, in the sand hills, we have again a view of Flinders range. The bearings are: Mount North-west, 78 degrees 35 minutes; Mount Deception, 107 degrees. At fourteen and a half miles we found a clay-pan of water, with beautiful green feed for the horses. As we don’t know when we shall find more water, and as Forster has a damper to bake, I decide to camp for the rest of the day. Our route has lain over heavy sand hills for the last eight miles.
Thursday, 24th June, Sand Hills. At 8.30 we left on a course of 340 degrees, commencing with about two miles of rather heavy sand hills. At eight miles these sand hills diminished, and the valleys between them became much wider — both sand hills and valleys being well covered with grass and salt bush, with courses of lime and ironstone cropping out and running east and west. At twelve miles changed our course to 79 degrees, to examine a gum creek (Yarraout), which we ran down for water, but did not obtain it before four miles, when we found a small hole of rain water. This creek seems to be a hunting-ground of the natives, as we saw a great many summer worleys on its banks. They had evidently been here today, for, a little above where we first struck the creek, we saw some smoke, but on following it up, we found they had gone; most likely they had seen us and run away. The latter part of our journey today was over a stony plain, bounded on the west by the stony table land with the sand hills on the top. All this country seems to have been under water, and is most likely the bed of Lake Torrens, or Captain Sturt’s inland sea. In travelling over the plains, one is reminded of going over a rough, gravelly beach; the stones are all rounded and smooth. Distance today, thirty miles.
Friday, 25th June, Yarraout Gum Creek. Started at 9.40 from the point where we first struck the creek last night, bearing 20 degrees for two miles, thence 61 degrees for one mile to a high sand hill, thence 39 degrees for one mile to a stony rise. My doubt of the black fellow’s knowledge of the country is now confirmed; he seems to be quite lost, and knows nothing of the country, except what he has heard other blacks relate; he is quite bewildered and points all round when I ask him the direction of Wingillpin. I have determined to push into the westward, keeping a little north of west. Bearing 292 degrees for five miles, sand hills; thence 327 degrees to a table-hill nine miles. Camped without water. Our route today has been through sand hills, with a few miles of stones and dry reedy swamp, all well grassed, but no water. We came across some natives, who kept a long distance off. I sent our black up to them, to ask in which direction Wingillpin lay. They pointed to the course I was then steering, and said, “Five sleeps.” They would not come near to us. About three-quarters of an hour afterwards I came suddenly upon another native, who was hunting in the sand hills. My attention being engaged in keeping the bearing, I did not observe him until he moved, but I pulled up at once, lest he should run away, and called to him. What he imagined I was I do not know; but when he turned round and saw me, I never beheld a finer picture of astonishment and fear. He was a fine muscular fellow, about six feet in height, and stood as if riveted to the spot, with his mouth wide open, and his eyes staring. I sent our black forward to speak with him, but omitted to tell him to dismount. The terrified native remained motionless, allowing our black to ride within a few yards of him, when, in an instant, he threw down his waddies, and jumped up into a mulga bush as high as he could, one foot being about three feet from the ground, and the other about two feet higher, and kept waving us off with his hand as we advanced. I expected every moment to see the bush break with his weight. When close under the bush, I told our black to inquire if he were a Wingillpin native. He was so frightened he could not utter a word, and trembled from head to foot. We then asked him where Wingillpin was. He mustered courage to let go one hand, and emphatically snapping his fingers in a north-west direction, again waved us off. I take this emphatic snapping of his fingers to mean a long distance. Probably this Wingillpin may be Cooper’s Creek. We then left him, and proceeded on our way through the sand hills. About an hour before sunset, we came in full sight of a number of tent and table-topped hills to the north-west, the stony table land being to the south of us, and the dip of the country still towards Lake Torrens. I shall keep a little more to the west tomorrow if possible, to get the fall of the country the other way. The horses’ shoes have been worn quite thin by the stones, and will not last above a day or two. Nay, some of the poor animals are already shoeless. It is most unfortunate that we did not bring another set with us. Distance today, twenty-four miles.
Saturday, 26th June, Edge of Plain. Started at 9.30 a.m., on a bearing of 314 degrees 30 minutes, over an undulating plain, with low sand hills and wide valleys, with plenty of grass and salt bush. After ten miles the sand hills ceased, and at thirteen miles we reached the point of the stony table land. Here we saw, to the north-north-west, what was apparently a large gum creek, running north-east and south-west. Changing our bearing to 285 degrees, after seven miles of very bad stony plain, thinly covered with salt bush and grass, we came upon the creek, and found long reaches of permanent water, divided here and there by only a few yards of rocks, and bordered by reeds and rushes. The water hole, by which we camped, is from forty to fifty feet wide, and half a mile in length; the water is excellent, and I could see small fish in it about two inches long. About ten miles down the creek the country seems to be more open, and the gum-trees much larger, and in a distant bend of the creek I can perceive a large body of water. The first of the seven or eight tent-like hills that were to the east of our route today presents a somewhat remarkable appearance. Of a conical form, it comes to a point like a Chinaman’s hat, and is encircled near the top by a black ring, while some rocks resembling a white tower crown the summit. Distance today, twenty miles.
Sunday, 27th June, Large Water Creek. Cloudy morning, with prospect of rain. A swan visited the water hole last night, and today we have seen both the mountain duck and the large black duck. Having a shoe to fix upon Jersey, and my courses to map down, we did not get a start until 10 o’clock, and we were obliged to stop early in consequence of the grey mare getting so lame that we were unable to proceed. We had an old shoe or two, and Mr. Forster managed to get one on the mare. We started today on a bearing of 270 degrees for eight miles to a low flat-topped hill, when we changed to 220 degrees for five miles to a gum creek with rain water. About five miles to the north of our line there are flat-topped ranges, running north-east. The main creek runs on the south side of this course, and nearly parallel to it. Further to the south, at a distance of about ten miles, is still the stony table land with the sand hills. The country is fearfully stony, but improves a little in grass as we get west. It seems to be well watered. Distance today, about twelve miles.
Monday, 28th June, Gum Creek. There has been a little rain during the night, and it is still coming down. As I am so far north, I regret that I am unable to go a little further, fearing the lameness of the horses from the stony nature of the country. I intend to follow the creek up, if it comes from the west, or a little to the north of west, to see if I cannot make the fall of the country to the south-west, and get on a better road for the horses. We started on a bearing of 305 degrees, but after a mile and a half, finding the creek wind too much to the north, we changed our course to 287 degrees for five miles to a small flat-topped hill. Changed our bearing again to 281 degrees for twenty-two miles to a tent hill, on the south side of which we camped. This part of the country is very stony and bad, with salt bush and very little grass. It has evidently been the course of a large water at some time, and reminded me of the stony desert of Captain Sturt. Bleak, barren, and desolate, it grows no timber, so that we scarcely can find sufficient wood to boil our quart pot. The rain, which poured down upon us all day, so softened the ground that the horses could tread the stones into it, and we got along much better than we expected. Distance today, twenty-eight miles and a half.
Tuesday, 29th June, South Side of Tent Hill. Started at 8.30 a.m. on a bearing of 305 degrees. At eight miles crossed a gum creek, with polyganum, running to the north. At twelve miles crossed another, trending in the same direction. These creeks are wide and formed into numerous channels. I expected to have done thirty miles today, but am disappointed, for we were obliged to halt early, after having gone only eighteen miles, as my horse was quite lame. How much do we feel the want of another set of horse-shoes! We have, however, still got an old shoe left, which is put on this afternoon. It had continued raining all last night, but not heavily, and cleared off in the morning shortly after we started. Our travelling today has been still very stony, over stony rises; the stony table land that has been all along on our left is now trending more to the south-west. The country is more open: in looking at it from one of the rises it has the appearance of an immense plain, studded with isolated flat-topped hills. The last eight miles is better grassed and has more salt bush. Camped on a small creek in the stony rises. Distance today, eighteen miles.
Wednesday, 30th June, Stony Rises. We had a little rain in the former part of the night, and a very heavy dew in the morning. Started at 9.30 a.m., bearing 305 degrees; at five miles crossed the upper part of a gum creek, and at twelve miles ascended a high flat-topped hill, commanding a view of an immense stony plain, but it is so hazy that we can see nothing beyond ten miles. From this hill we changed our course to 309 degrees to a saddle in the next range. At four miles halted at a gum creek, with plenty of green feed. Made a very short journey today in consequence of the horses being quite lame. In addition to their want of shoes, a stiff, tenacious brown clay adhered to the hoof, and picked up the small round stones, which pressed on the frog of the foot. These pebbles were as firmly packed as if they had been put in with cement, so that we had hard work to keep the hoofs clear. Distance travelled, sixteen miles. Weather showery.
Thursday, 1st July, Gum Greek. The horses have had such poor food for the last week that I shall rest them today. About half a mile below us there is a large water hole a quarter of a mile long, with a number of black ducks upon it, but they are very shy. It rained very heavily and without intermission all last night and today. This creek is visited by a great many natives. We saw them making away as we approached.
Friday, 2nd July, Same Place. The creek came down last night: it is now a sheet of water two hundred yards broad. Started at 8.45 a.m. over a stony plain on a bearing of 309 degrees, to the saddle in the range. I ascended one of the highest hills in this range, but the day was too dull to see far. I could, however, distinguish what appeared to be a wooded country in the distance, from south-west to north-east.10 Observing that the country a little more to the north was less stony, I changed our course to a bearing of 344 degrees, over a plain thinly covered with gravelly stones, consisting of quartz, ironstone, and a dark reddish-brown stone, with a good deal of gypsum cropping out. The soil is of a light-brown colour, with plenty of dry grass upon it, and very little salt bush. In the spring time it must look beautiful. The country was so boggy from the heavy rains, that for the sake of my horse I was obliged to stop early. Camped at a gum creek coming from the south-west, and running a little to the east of north. Distance today, eighteen miles.
Sunday, 4th July, Same Place. Not the slightest appearance of a change. It rained in torrents all night and all day, though at sundown it seemed to be breaking a little. The creek came down in the forenoon, overflowed its banks, and left us on an island before we knew what we were about. We were obliged to seek a higher place. Not content with depriving us of our first worley, it has now forced us to retreat to a bare hill, without any protection from the weather. The rain has come from the north-east.
Monday, 5th July, Same Place. The rain lasted the greater part of the night, but became light before morning. Started at 12.30 on a bearing of 312 degrees for eleven miles to some sand hills. A fearfully hard day’s work for the poor horses over a stony plain, sinking up to their knees in mud, until at eight miles we crossed a reedy swamp two miles in breadth, and how many in length I know not, for it seemed all one sheet of water: it took our horses up to their bellies.
Tuesday, 6th July, Sand Hills. All our rations and everything we have got being perfectly saturated with wet, I have made up my mind to stop and put them to rights; if we neglect them it will soon be all over with us. This was a beautiful day, not a cloud to be seen. There are a great many natives’ tracks in these sand hills, and plenty of grass.
Wednesday, 7th July, Sand Hills. Heavy dew last night. Started on a bearing of 312 degrees at 9 a.m. At eleven miles the sand hills cease, and stony plain commences. The sand hills were well grassed: also the stony plain. Dip of the country still north-east. We crossed two watercourses — one at this side of the plain, and the other two miles back, broad and shallow. I could see gum-trees on the latter about two miles to the north-east as if it formed itself into a deeper channel. Travelling very heavy. Distance today, twenty-five miles.
Thursday, 8th July, Sand Hills. A very heavy dew again last night. Started at 9 a.m. At one mile we came on yesterday’s course; could see nothing; changed the bearing to 272 degrees. At seven miles crossed a creek running north and a little west, the water being up to our saddle-flaps. At twelve miles the sand hills ceased, and we came upon an elevated plain, of a light-brown soil, with fragments of stone on the surface. At twenty-five miles, in the middle of this plain, we camped, without wood, and in sight of a large range in the far distance to the west. Distance today, twenty-five miles.
Friday, 9th July, Large Plain. Left our camp at 8.50 a.m. on the same bearing as yesterday, 272 degrees. At one mile and half came upon a creek of water, seemingly permanent. Judging from the immense quantity of dry grass that is strewn over the plain, this must be a beautiful country in spring. The dip of the country is to the north and west. Our horses are all very lame for want of shoes, and the boggy state of the soil today has tried them severely. If the country does not become less stony, I shall be compelled to leave some of them behind. We camped on a gum creek about three miles to the west of the range. My only hope now of cutting Cooper’s Creek is on the other side of the range. The plain we crossed today resembles those of the Cooper, also the grasses; if it is not there, it must run to the north-west, and form the Glenelg of Captain Grey. Distance today, twenty-one miles.
Saturday, 10th July, Gum Creek, West End of Large Stony Plain. Rested the horses today. This evening we were surprised to hear a dog barking at the grey mare; its colour was black and tan.11
Sunday, 11th July, Same Place. This morning the sun rose at 62 degrees. Bearing today, 272 degrees, so as to round the point of range, which seems to have a little mallee in the gullies on this side, and some trees on the west side. Started at 8.30 a.m., and at four miles ascended the highest point of the range. The view to the north-east is over an immense stony plain with broken hills in the distance. To the north is also the plain, with table-hills in the far distance. To the north-west is the termination of the range running north-east and south-west, distant about ten miles; about half-way between is a gum creek running to north-east. To the west is the same range, and a number of conical hills between. Changed our bearing to 220 degrees in order to break through the range. This range is very stony, composed of a hard milky-white flint stone, and white and yellow chalky substance, with a gradual descent on the other side to the south, which is the finest salt-bush country that I have seen, with a great quantity of grass upon it. The grey mare has been very bad; her belly was very much swollen, but this morning she seemed better. Towards afternoon, however, she fagged very much, which caused me to stop so soon. I am almost afraid that I shall lose her. I shall see how she is in the morning, and, if she is no better, I will endeavour to get her on to some permanent water or creek running to the south. I think we have now made the dip of the country to the south, but the mirage is so powerful that little bushes appear like great gum-trees, which makes it very difficult to judge what is before us; it is almost as bad as travelling in the dark. I never saw it so bright nor so continuous as it is now; one would think that the whole country was under water. Camped without water. No timber as yet on this side of the range, except a few bushes in the creek. A good deal of rain has fallen here lately, and the vegetation is looking fresh.
Monday, 12th July, Large Salt-Bush and Grass Plain. The mare seems a little better this morning, and I shall be able to make a short journey. There was a very heavy white frost during the night, and it was bitterly cold. Not a hill to be seen either to the south-west or west — nothing but plain. Left our camp at 8.30 a.m. on a bearing of 220 degrees; at two miles and a half changed to 112 degrees for three miles to a small creek running south with plenty of feed and water. We found our horses very much done up this morning; they could scarcely travel over the stones, which caused me to alter my course to the eastward, where I found the travelling generally better. All the horses are now so lame that I shall require to rest them before I can proceed. They will not walk above two miles an hour among the stones. The stony plain seems to continue a long way to the south-west, but the country being undulating and the mirage so strong, I cannot say precisely. I intend to see where this creek will lead me to, for I cannot face the stones again. Our distance today, five miles and a half.
Tuesday, 13th July, Mulga Creek. Went to the highest point on the stony range east of us, but could only see a very short distance. There are a number of creeks on the eastern side running into this one. The range is low and very stony, composed of flints and pebbles of all colours. No timber.
Wednesday, 14th July, Same Place. During the night it became very cloudy, and I was afraid we were going to have more rain, but it has ended in a light shower, and cleared off this morning. I shall follow down the creek and see what it leads to. The grey mare still seems very bad, and I must make short journeys until she gets a little better. Started at 8.30 a.m., bearing 180 degrees for eight miles to Large Mulga Creek, thence 192 degrees for four miles. The country today is good on both sides of the creek, a good salt-bush country with plenty of grass, but rather stony. The gum trees are becoming a little larger on the creek, which at present is formed into a great many channels. The timber consists of mulga and dwarf gum, with saplings. There is plenty of water in the creek at present, from the late rain, but I see nothing to indicate its becoming permanent. Distance today, twelve miles.
Thursday, 15th July, Mulga and Gum Creek. Left the camp at 9 a.m. on a bearing of 190 degrees for two miles, thence 230 degrees for one mile and a half, thence 250 degrees for four miles and a half, thence 286 degrees for two miles, thence 290 degrees for one mile, thence 270 degrees for five miles, thence 320 degrees for one mile, to camp at some mallee. The country on both sides of the creek is good, but subject to be flooded; the width of the plain is about fifteen miles, bounded on the south side by bare stony rises, and on the north by scrubby rises. The creek spreads itself all over the plain, which seems to be very extensive. It has been excessively cold today: wind from the west. Distance today, seventeen miles.
Friday, 16th July, Large Plain, Mulga and Gum Creek. Left the camp at 9 a.m., on a bearing of 270 degrees for nine miles. The first six miles was a continuation of the creek and plain; it then turned to the north-west and the sand hills commenced. At nine miles we had a good view of the surrounding country, from the east to the north-west. To the west we could see the range that we crossed on the 11th instant trending away to the north-west as far as the eye could reach, apparently a sandy and scrubby country with small patches of open ground intervening. There also appeared to be a gum creek, about five miles west of this point. Seeing there was no hope for anything to the west for a long distance, I changed my course to the south on a bearing of 190 degrees to cross the stony rise, keeping on the sand hills for the benefit of the horses’ feet. At five miles found that the sandy country swept round the stony rise, the country still having the appearance of scrub and sand hills all round. I altered my course to south-east to 132 degrees for fourteen miles; on this course we have ridden over a scrubby plain of a light sandy soil, most beautifully grassed but dry, the young feed not having sprung. We have not seen a drop of water on the surface; the ground evidently absorbs all that falls; the scrub is principally the mulga and hakea bushes and acacia, with a few other small bushes, but very little salt bush. Camped to-night without water. The grey mare appears to be getting round again; it seems to have been an affection of the chest, and has now fallen down into the left knee, which has become very much swollen, but it seems to have relieved her chest; she now feeds as well as ever. Distance today, twenty-eight miles.
Saturday, 17th July, Scrub and Sandy Plain without Water. Started at 8.10 a.m. on the same course, 132 degrees. At two miles and a half, rain water; at seven miles crossed a stunted gum creek running towards the south-west; at twenty-five miles came upon a little rain water. Camped. The plain still continues with very low rises at intervals; the scrub is much thicker and the greater part of it dead, which makes it very difficult to travel through. The grass is not so plentiful, and it is more sandy. The creek that we crossed at seven miles was running; it had salt tea-tree on its banks, and seems likely to have some permanent water either above or below. I did not examine it, because, the surrounding country being so sandy and scrubby, it will be of little use. Distance today, twenty-five miles.
Sunday, 18th July, Dense Scrubby Plain. Rain Water. Left at 9.15 a.m. on the same bearing, 132 degrees. We saw some native worleys, and the tracks of a number of natives having passed this place a day or two ago, going to the south-west. Distance today, twenty miles. Had to halt early in consequence of grey mare being done up and unable to proceed. The first part of the day’s journey the scrub became more open and splendidly grassed, the latter part was fearfully thick, it is composed of mulga, dead and alive, and a few hakea and other bushes, with salt bush and plenty of grass of two or three different sorts. We have a view of rising ground a little to the north of our line, about from fifteen to twenty miles distant. To-morrow I shall alter my course to strike the highest point; it is a range, and seems to be wooded. I suppose it is the same range that we crossed on the 11th instant. It is very cloudy, and seems as if it will rain. Distance today, twenty miles.
Monday, 19th July, Dense Scrubby Plain. Started at 9.15 a.m. on a bearing of 120 degrees to the highest point of the range. A slight shower fell early this morning; it still looks very cloudy. We could only accomplish ten miles today in consequence of the grey mare being unable to proceed farther; if I can get her on to permanent water I shall leave her; she only keeps me back, and endangers the other horses. I shall be very sorry to do so, for she is a great favourite. We are now camped at a place where there are five or six small watercourses; if we can find water I shall give her until tomorrow to rest. The country that we have come over today is most splendidly grassed, of a red light sandy soil, but good; the mulga bushes in some places grow thick, and a great many are very tall. Forster caught an opossum — the first that we have seen; we intend making a dinner from him today. This is the first game we have been able to secure, except two small ducks we had at the beginning of our journey. We have found water a little way down the valley, which I think will become a large creek further to the south-west. We are again in the country of the kangaroos. Distance today, ten miles.
Tuesday, 20th July, Grassy Valley. We had another shower this morning. I must try and make the hills today if I can. Started at 10.10 a.m. on the same bearing as yesterday, 120 degrees, and at four miles ascended the peak on the range. I see around me a scrubby country, with open patches, and here and there in the far distance what appear to be belts of mulga. Four miles beyond this hill we halted at some rain water. We have seen three or four kangaroos today; they were the red sort with white breasts. Distance travelled, eight miles.
Wednesday 21st July, Grass and Salt-Bush Plains. Left the camp at 9 a.m. on a bearing of 97 degrees. Camped at some rain water in a clay-pan. At twelve miles there is low rising ground running north-west and south-east, which divides the two plains; there are no creeks, but the dip of the country is to the south-west. This is as fine a salt-bush and grass country as I have seen. It is a pity there is no permanent water. Distance today, twenty miles.
Thursday, 22nd July, Open, Good Country. Started at 9 a.m. on the same course as yesterday, 97 degrees. At ten miles crossed a small watercourse running to the south-south-west; at sixteen miles came through the saddle of a low range running north-west and south-east composed of limestone; it forms one of the boundaries of a large plain, which seems well adapted for pastoral purposes; it is well grassed, with salt bush, although we could find no permanent water. I think I can see a gum creek to the east of us, but the mirage is so powerful that I am not quite certain. Distance today, twenty miles.
Friday, 23rd July, Large East Plain. Started at 9.10 a.m. on a bearing of 82 degrees, and at four miles ascended an isolated hill, but can see nothing of the gum creek. Changed our course to 122 degrees, and at four miles crossed a mulga creek running to the east. Camped on the south-east side of a flat-topped hill, which, although the highest I have yet seen, enabled me to see nothing but the range to the north-east, and a high conical hill about ten miles south-west, connected with the ranges. The country is without timber except a few mulga bushes at intervals. Distance today, twenty-one miles.
Saturday, 24th July, South-east Side of Flat-topped Hill. Left at 8.10 a.m. on the same course, 122 degrees, over an undulating stony plain, with narrow sand hills at intervals, and a number of lagoons containing rain water, where we camped. I intend to move tomorrow to another large lagoon that we have seen from a small rise, and rest the horses there; they have had a very severe day of it, and feel the want of shoes very much. The stones are mostly white quartz and ironstone, small and water-washed. I conclude they have come from the hills that are to the south-west. Distance today, twenty-four miles.
Sunday, 25th July, A Lagoon of Rain Water. Finding that we have sand hills to cross, and being anxious to meet with the gum creek that the blacks have talked about, I have determined to proceed today, but if I do not find it on this course I shall turn to the south. Started at eight a.m. on a bearing of 122 degrees. At five miles, one mile to the south is a large reedy swamp. At fourteen miles changed the bearing to 135 degrees to the head of a swamp, two miles and a half, found it dry, a large clay-pan about three miles in circumference. I am obliged to halt, the horses are very tired and want rest; and there being plenty of beautiful green feed about, I have halted without water. Our journey has been through a very thick mulga scrub and sand hills, very heavy travelling. The trees in the scrub are of a different description to any that I have seen; they grow high and very crooked, without branches until near the top, and with a rough, ragged bark; seven or eight seem to spring from one root. The wood is very tough and heavy, and burns a long time, giving out a glowing heat. The leaves resemble the mulga, but are of a darker colour and smaller size. The native name is Moratchee. Shot a wallaby, and had him for dinner. They are very wild, no getting within shot of them, which is unfortunate, as our provisions are getting rather short. From the number of native tracks about, this would seem to be their season for hunting in the sand hills, which accounts for everything being so wild. We saw five turkeys yesterday, but could not get within shot of them. All the water seems to drain into the reedy swamp and clay-pans. I shall go no further to the east on this course, for I can see no inducement. I shall go south tomorrow, and see what that produces; if I cross no large creek within forty-five miles in that direction, I shall then direct my course for the north-west of Fowler’s Bay to see what is there. Distance today, sixteen miles.
Monday, 27th July, Sand Hills and Dense Scrub. Left our camp at 9.20 a.m. on a southerly course, 182 degrees. At thirteen miles we camped at some rain water to give the horses a little rest. We have come through a very thick scrub of mulga, with broken sand hills and a few low rises of lime and ironstone. We have seen two or three pines for the first time, and a few black oaks. No appearance of a change of country. From a high sand ridge I could see a long way to the north-east, seemingly all a dense scrub. The grey mare is unwell again. Distance today, thirteen miles.
Tuesday, 27th July, Sandy Undulations. Started at 9 a.m. on the same bearing as yesterday, 182 degrees. At twenty-one miles changed our course to 235 degrees to some gum-trees. The first part of our journey the scrub became lower and more open, with limestone and sand rises at intervals, and with a good deal of grass in places. The last ten miles the mulga scrub was so dense that it was with difficulty we managed to get through. We have seen no water on this day’s route, except that in the lagoon we are now camped at, and which is as salt as the sea. There is another large lagoon about a mile to the westward of us, which I will examine tomorrow to see if it gives rise to any creek. Distance today, twenty-two miles.
Wednesday, 28th July, Sand Hills. Started at 9 a.m. on a bearing of 283 degrees for two miles to examine the other lagoon, which is about three miles long, water salt. Changed our course to 182 degrees for ten miles to a large lake crossing our course. Changed our bearing to 240 degrees, and at four miles changed to 270 degrees, crossing some horse-tracks going towards the large lake. This seems to be a country of salt lagoons, for we passed three, and have seen a great many more. The large one that crossed our south course is evidently the head of Lake Gairdner. I could see it winding away in that direction. We have now got upon a plain slightly undulating with thick scrub and the unceasing mulga, intermixed with a few black oaks; no signs of water, no creeks. I intend to proceed north of west to intersect any creek or country that may come from the good country that we found on our south-east course, and the land of kangaroos; there is no hope of anything here. Camped without water. Distance today, twenty miles.
Thursday, 29th July, Mulga Plain, West of Lake Gairdner. Our course today is 310 degrees. Left our camp at 8.30, and accomplished twenty miles of the same scrubby plain, slightly undulating. Plenty of grass, but no water. Same description of country as on the 18th instant.
Friday, 30th July, Mulga Plain. Started at 7.35 on same course, 310 degrees. The scrub is so dense that I cannot see above one hundred yards ahead, and sometimes not that. During the night some swans and two ducks flew over, apparently from Lake Gairdner, and going in our direction. At ten miles, having met with some rain water, we halted, for the horses had been three nights without it. I have given them the rest of the day to drink their fill. This seems to be a continuation of the stony plain we crossed on our south-eastern line. The country appears open to the south, but no sign of any permanent water. Forster bakes the last of our flour this afternoon — the last of our provisions. Distance today, ten miles.
Saturday, 31st July, South Stony Plain. Left at 8.30 on the same bearing, 310 degrees. At ten miles we ascended a low range running north and south. We did not see a drop of water all day. Our course was over a gradually rising plain, well grassed at intervals, with plenty of salt bush, and with stone on the surface, composed of quartz, ironstone, and the hard white flinty stone so frequently met with. The scrub has nearly ceased. The dip of the country is south. During the night we again heard a dog barking at one of the horses, and during the day we saw two kangaroos. At ten miles we crossed a valley, through which water has been flowing to the south-south-west. Camped without water. Distance today, fifteen miles.
Sunday, 1st August, Stony Plain Valley. Left at 8.45 on the same bearing, 310 degrees. My reason for keeping this bearing is that there seems to have been very little rain to the south of us, and I am unwilling to get too far away from where it has fallen, in case I have to put to my former line for it. If I should meet with it today I shall turn south-west or west. This country is very dry, and absorbs all that falls. It is of a bright red soil, mixed with sand and, in some places, lime. At ten miles I am obliged to stop, in consequence of the grey mare being quite done up; the stones play the mischief with her. I have great doubts of her living through the journey. Distance today, ten miles.
Monday, 2nd August, Salt Bush — a Stony Plain. We had a little rain during the night. Started at 9 on a bearing of 315 degrees. At three miles changed our course to 230 degrees. The last three miles of this day’s journey were through rather a thick scrub, but well grassed, with few stones. The former part was through a very well-grassed country, with a little salt bush and low scrub. Saw a number of kangaroos, but they were too wild to get near them. Distance today, twenty miles.
Tuesday, 3rd August, Good Country. It has rained during the whole night, and is likely to do so today. Started at 9, on the same course as yesterday, 230 degrees. The first portion of our journey was over six miles of splendid alluvial country, covered with grass — partly spear grass — with a little salt bush intermixed with it, also a few mulga bushes at intervals; no other timber. It is a most beautiful open piece of country, and looks much better than the Adelaide plains did at the commencement of the colony. Four miles further it was not so good; the soil became a little lighter, with more salt bush, and a little scrub. The last eleven miles the soil is good, with grass and salt bush in abundance, but much thicker with mulga and other low scrubs. It seems to be a continuation of the same scrub that we passed over on the 19th ultimo, and I observe that the ants build their habitations in the same style as they did there. They are about one foot in diameter at the base, and formed in the shape of a cone, and are supported by the dead root of a mulga. Others, however, stand from eighteen inches to three feet in height, built of clay, and on the surface. The kangaroo and emu inhabit the country. We have also found a number of places where the natives have been encamped. They seem to be numerous, judging from the number of places where they have had their fires; but we have not seen any of them. We have had it raining nearly all day, and it still looks bad. Our black fellow left us during the night; he seemed to be very much frightened of the other natives. He knows nothing of the country, and if he follows our tracks back, I don’t envy him his walk. He was of very little use to us, and I wish I had sent him off before, but I thought he might be useful in conversing with the other natives when we should meet them. He was of no other use than for tracking and assisting in getting the horses in the morning, for I have given them every advantage — they have been seldom hobbled. There are three small valleys on our line in which water seems to have run at some former period. We have crossed no course of rocks of any description since our northern line; from which I am of opinion that the drainage is underneath, so that there ought to be numerous springs near the sea-coast. Camped without water. Distance today, twenty miles.
Wednesday, 4th August, Scrubby Good Country. Started at 8 on the same bearing as yesterday, 230 degrees. At thirteen miles ascended a low red granite range in which there is water. Changed our bearing to 209 degrees to a hill on the opposite range; when I returned I found the grey mare so done up that she is unable to proceed. I should not like to leave her, but I cannot delay longer with her. For about half a mile under the range where we are now camped is beautiful feed up to the horses’ knees. Six cockatoos passed over to another range. We have also found a small running stream where I shall leave the mare tomorrow; I will make an attempt to regain her as I return.
Thursday, 5th August, Granite Range. Started at 8 on the same bearing for the hill on the opposite range. At six miles another low granite range with water, where we left the mare. At twelve miles went to the highest point of the range composed of hard flinty quartz and ironstone. We had a good view of the surrounding country, which was generally low and undulating, with salt lakes crossing at about ten miles. This region appears to be dotted with the lagoons from nearly the foot of the range. Changed our bearing to 268 degrees for nine miles. Camped under a range of low hills with good feed for the horses. On our west course we crossed a plain of red light soil, with abundance of grass and a little salt bush with a very thick scrub close to the range, but as we advanced it became more open, and the scrub lower. Shot a wallaby and had him for supper. Distance today, twenty-five miles.
Friday, 6th August, Under the Low Range. Left at 8.30 a.m. on a bearing of 239 degrees to avoid the stones on the hills. At five miles and a half got some rain water; at nine miles changed our bearing to 255 degrees; at fifteen miles camped among the sand hills. Shot another wallaby. The timber about here is very large, consisting of black oaks, mallee, mulga, the native peach, the nut, and numerous low scrubs. The grass is good in some places. The mountain that I am steering for is further off than I anticipated; we got sight of it a short time before we halted; it seems to be very high, and I expect something good will be the result of our visit to it tomorrow. The hills that we were camped under last night are composed of quartz, and are connected with the range that we were on running to the south-west. Distance today, twenty six miles.
Saturday, 7th August, Sand Hills going to the High Mount. Left at 8.30 a.m. on the same bearing, 255 degrees, for eighteen miles to the foot of the mountain. At fifteen miles camped under the highest point, which is composed of quartz rock. The journey today has been through horrid dense scrub and heavy sand hills, to the foot of the hill, which I have named Mount Finke. It is as high as Mount Arden; I have not light to get on the top of it to-night. Very little rain has fallen here, and we have been without water for the last two nights: the country is of such a light sandy soil that it will not retain it. I almost give up hopes of a good country; this is very disheartening after all that I have done to find it. If I see nothing from the top of the mount tomorrow, I must turn down to Fowler’s Bay for water for the horses. As I could not remain quiet, I got on one of the lower spurs of Mount Finke to see what was before me. The prospect is gloomy in the extreme! I could see a long distance, but nothing met the eye save A DENSE SCRUB AS BLACK AND DISMAL AS MIDNIGHT. On my return I found that Forster had succeeded in finding water by digging in the creek. Distance today, twenty miles.
Sunday, 8th August, Mount Finke. At dawn of day I ascended the mountain, but was unable to see much more than I did last night, in consequence of there being a mist all round. No high rising ground is to be seen in any direction. A FEARFUL COUNTRY. Left the mount at 9.30 a.m. on a bearing of 270 degrees. At eighteen miles halted to give the horses some food, as they were obliged to be tied up all last night, there not being any feed for them, and the scrub very dense. The horse Blower seems to be very unwell; he has lain down twice this morning, and an hour’s rest will do him good. After leaving the mount we have a thick mallee and mulga scrub to go through with spinifex. At ten miles changed our bearing to 190 degrees; at eight miles camped. The whole of our journey to day has been through a dreadful desert of sand hills and spinifex. In the last eight miles we have not seen a mouthful for the horses to eat and not a drop of water; it is even WORSE than Captain Sturt’s desert, where there was a little salt bush; but here there is not a vestige. Distance today, twenty-five miles.
Monday, 9th August, Desert. Started at 8.30 on the same bearing, 190 degrees. At five miles there is a change in the country; the spinifex has suddenly ceased and low scrub taken its place; the sand ridges are spread and the valley wider. At seven miles discovered some rock water in the middle of a valley with plenty of salt bush and green grass, first rate for the horses, which have had nothing to eat for two nights. I shall give them the rest of the day to recover. They were beginning to be very much done up, and it was with difficulty we could get them to face the spinifex. Shot a pigeon and had him for supper. We have seen where a horse has been a long time ago. Distance today, seven miles.
Tuesday, 10th August, Rock Water. Started at 8.30 on a bearing of 180 degrees. Camped at eighteen miles without water, and a very little food for the horses, only a little salt bush. The appearance of a change from the dreary desert lasted only for about one mile from where we camped last night; it then became even worse than before — the sand hills higher, steeper and closer together, the spinifex thicker and higher; we got the horses through it with difficulty. It rained all last night and all day. There is some rising ground to the west. Distance today, eighteen miles.
Wednesday, 11th August, Dense Scrub. Left our camp at 8 on the same bearing, 180 degrees. At 9 obliged to halt for the remainder of the day, the horses being too tired to proceed further; the fearful sand hills are very trying for them. To-day’s few miles have been through the same DREARY, DREADFUL, DISMAL DESERT of heavy sand hills and spinifex with mallee very dense, scarcely a mouthful for the horses to eat. When will it have an end? We again saw the rising ground a little to the north of west of us; I should have gone and examined it, but our small remaining quantity of provisions being nearly exhausted, I could not venture; my object now being to make Fowler’s Bay for water for our horses, and thence to Streaky Bay, to endeavour to get some provisions there to carry us home. We have now travelled considerably upwards of a thousand miles, and in that journey my horses have had only four clear days to themselves; they have done most excellently well. No water.
Thursday, 12th August. Dense Scrub. Left at 8.25 on a bearing of 165 degrees. Camped at ten miles; the horses done up. The same dreary desert. No water.
Friday, 13th August. Dense Scrub. The horses look very bad this morning. I hope we shall be able to make the sea-coast today. Started at 8.30 on the same bearing, 165 degrees, but was unable to get more than ten miles out of the horses; Bonney is nearly done up, and there is no water for the poor animals. I hope I shall not be obliged to leave the poor old horse behind, but I very much fear that I shall have to do so if nothing turns up tomorrow. The country is still the same. This is dreadful work!
Saturday, 14th August, Dense Scrub. Started at 8.15 on the same bearing, 165 degrees. At ten miles came upon some green feed for the horses, and gave them the benefit of it for the rest of the day. Bonney still very bad. For the last two miles we have had no sand hills, but very dense mallee and tea-tree, with a light sandy soil with a little limestone, also salt bush and pig-face in abundance. No water.
Sunday, 15th August, Dense Mallee Scrub. Started at 8.45 on same bearing, 165 degrees. At two miles and a half changed our course to 225 degrees, having found some fresh horse-tracks; at seven miles camped for the remainder of the day to recruit the horses, having come upon some new green grass. Distance actually travelled, fifteen miles.
Monday, 16th August, Dense Mallee Scrub. Started at 9 on a course of 205 degrees. Twelve miles to Miller’s Water. I intended to have given the horses two days’ rest here, but there is not sufficient water; there are only three holes in the limestone rock, and the thirsty animals have nearly drunk it all: there will not be enough for them in the morning. The country that we have come through yesterday and today resembles the scrub between Franklin Harbour and Port Lincoln — mallee with grassy plains occasionally — only the mallee is larger, and the plains are met with at shorter intervals, more numerous and of larger extent. The soil is good but light, being produced by decomposed limestone, of which the low range to the north-west is composed. I am unable to go to Fowler’s Bay as I intended; our provisions are exhausted, and the horses unable to do the journey. I must now shape my course for Streaky Bay to get something to eat.
Tuesday, 17th August, Miller’s Water. Watered our horses from a waterproof with a quart pot. Started at 9.15, our course 160 degrees, six miles to Bectimah Gaip. For the first three miles the grassy plains are very good, and seem to run a considerable distance between belts of large mallee, in some places wider than in others, and seem to be connected by small gaips; I think water could be easily obtained by digging. The last three miles to the coast is very dense small mallee. Actual distance, twelve miles. I intend to give the horses a rest tomorrow. I regret exceedingly that I was unable to make Fowler’s Bay. It is with difficulty that I have been able to save Bonney; he is still very weak and unable to do a day’s journey; we can scarcely get him to do the short journeys we have been doing lately. For upwards of a month we have been existing upon two pounds and a half of flour cake daily, without animal food. Since we commenced the journey, all the animal food we have been able to obtain has been four wallabies, one opossum, one small duck, one pigeon, and latterly a few kangaroo mice, which were very welcome; we were anxious to find more, but we soon got out of their country.
These kangaroo mice are elegant little animals, about four inches in length, and resemble the kangaroo in shape, with a long tail terminating with a sort of brush. Their habitations are of a conical form, built with twigs and rotten wood, about six feet in diameter at the base, and rising to a height of three or four feet. When the natives discover one of these nests they surround it, treading firmly round the base in order to secure any outlet; they then remove the top of the cone, and, as the mice endeavour to escape, they kill them with the waddies which they use with such unfailing skill. When the nest is found by only a few natives, they set fire to the top of the cone, and thus secure the little animals with ease. For the last month we have been reduced to one meal a-day, and that a very small one, which has exhausted us both very much and made us almost incapable of exertion. We have now only TWO meals left to take us to Streaky Bay, which is distant from this place ONE HUNDRED MILES. We have been forced to boil the tops of the pigface, to satisfy the wants of nature. Being short of water, we boiled them in their own juice. To a hungry man they were very palatable, and, had they been boiled in fresh water, would have made a good vegetable. Yesterday we obtained a few sow-thistles, which we boiled, and found to be very good.
Wednesday, 18th August, Bectimah Gaip. Rested the horses and obtained a few shell-fish from the beach: there are very few, which was a disappointment to us.
Thursday, 19th August, Bectimah Gaip. Started at 8 a.m. for Streaky Bay. I managed to get thirty miles today, which is a great help. I only hope that Mr. Gibson is at Streaky Bay, so that we may be able to get something to eat; we must endure three days’ more starving before we shall be able to reach there.
Friday, 20th August, Smoky Bay. Started at 7.15. Mallee scrub in some places very dense, in others open, with good grassy plains at intervals, in which I think water could be had by digging; very few birds about, and those small. At twenty-five miles we got some rock water. Distance today, thirty-five miles.
Saturday, 21st August, Small Grassy Plains. Started at 7.30 on a south-easterly course. Got a little water in the limestone rock for our horses. Camped on the shore at Streaky Bay at sundown. The last sixteen miles were through very dense scrub; the former part through scrub with good grassy plains at intervals. Distance, thirty-eight miles.
Sunday, 22nd August, On the Shore at Streaky Bay. Started at 11 a.m. to make Mr. Gibson’s station. The horses did not arrive until 10.30, as they had gone back on their tracks of yesterday. During the time Forster was after them, I managed to shoot a crow, and cooked him in the ashes. We had him for breakfast — the first food we have had for the last three days; it was very agreeable to taste and stomach, for we were beginning to feel the cravings of nature rather severely. I hope Mr. Gibson will be at the Depot; it will be a fine trouble if he is not, and we have to travel two hundred and forty miles on the chance of shooting something. Twenty-four miles to Mr. Gibson’s station, where we were received and treated with great kindness, for which we were very thankful. We enjoyed a good supper, which, after three days’ fasting, as may readily be imagined, was quite a treat.
Monday, 23rd August, Mr. Gibson’s Station. Both Forster and myself felt very unwell, especially Forster, who is very bad; the sudden change from a state of starvation to plenty of good and wholesome food has been the cause. I am suffering chiefly from weakness and a very severe pain between the shoulder-blades, which I have felt for some weeks back. It is a dreadful pain, and nearly incapacitated me from sitting in the saddle all day yesterday; I thought I should not have been able to reach here, I was so very bad with it. I have been obliged to send down to the next station, about thirty miles distant, to try and get some horseshoes. I must rest here a few days to recover.
Tuesday, 24th August, Mr. Gibson’s Station. Forster appears to be a little better this morning, but very weak; I also feel a little better this morning from yesterday’s rest.
Wednesday, 25th August, Mr. Gibson’s Station. I have succeeded in getting some shoes for the horses from Mr. Miller, to whom I am deeply indebted for his kindness in allowing me to have them.
Thursday, 26th August, Mr. Gibson’s Station. Shoeing the horses and preparing for a start at the beginning of next week.
Friday, 27th August, Mr. Gibson’s Station. At the same thing. Improving in health and strength.
Saturday, 28th August, Mr. Gibson’s Station. I have been very unwell all night.
Sunday, 29th August, Mr. Gibson’s Station. Still very ill; unable to do anything.
Monday, 30th August, Mr. Gibson’s Station. The same.
Tuesday, 31st August, Mr. Gibson’s Station. I had a dreadful night of it; seized with cramp in the stomach, and thought I should never see morning; no medicine to relieve me. I intended to have started today, but am quite unable to do so.
Wednesday, 1st September, Mr. Gibson’s Station. Can stay no longer; made a start today, and got as far as one of Mr. Gibson’s out-stations, twenty-five miles. Quite done up.
Thursday, 2nd September, One of Mr. Gibson’s Out-Stations. Raining this morning; unable to proceed. Very unwell.
Friday, 3rd September, Same Place. Feel better this morning. Started at 8.30 for Parla. I am unable to make any attempt to recover the grey mare. Made Parla at 1 p.m.; camped at ten miles beyond. Distance today, twenty-five miles.
Saturday, 4th September, Ten Miles beyond Parla. Started at 8.15 on an east bearing twenty-three miles to Rock Water. Camped. Very poor country. The granite range that Mr. Hack has laid down on his chart, I cannot find. I have come east from Parla, and ought to have crossed about the middle of it.
Sunday, 5th September, Rock Water. I shall shape my course for the Freeling range, and see what that is made of. Started at 7.30 on a bearing of 84 degrees twenty-two miles. Rock water with plenty of grass. Gave the horses the rest of the day.
Monday, 6th September, South of Mount Sturt. Started at 8.15 on a bearing of 84 degrees for twenty-five miles. Changed the bearing to 60 degrees for three miles to a fine plain covered with grass. Halted. No water. There are some high hills to the east-north-east, to which I have now changed my course, and which I conclude to be the Freeling range. Our journey today has been through very scrubby and sandy country, especially the last fifteen miles. At six miles south there is a high table-topped hill, which I think is granite. I intended going down to it, but the country, so far as I could see, was apparently not good, and, having crossed the tracks of some horses going towards it, and being very unwell myself, I thought it would be useless my going. Distance today, thirty-eight miles. No water.
Tuesday, 7th September, Freeling Range. Started for the range at 8 on a bearing of 60 degrees. At eleven miles ascended the south-west hill of Freeling range, Mount Sturt bearing 266 degrees. Changed the bearing to 96 degrees to a stony hill of granite. Found a little water, and halted for the remainder of the day. Distance, fifteen miles.
Wednesday, 8th September, Freeling Range. Started at 7.30 for Separation Camp, bearing 72 degrees. Halted at thirty-three miles. The first twenty-five miles were mallee scrub with patches of grass; the last eight miles were over elevated table land, salt bush, and a little grass with a few patches of scrub, the soil being red, with a few fragments of quartz and ironstone on the surface. No water.
Thursday, 9th September, Salt-Bush Country. Started at 9.15 on the same bearing, 72 degrees, fourteen miles; changed to 160 degrees (1.30 p.m.) two miles and a half; thence 80 degrees three miles to a small creek, where we can obtain water by digging in the sand. Camped. Distance today, twenty miles. Did not see Separation Camp; it is wrongly placed on the map.
Friday, 10th September, Small Creek. Started at 9 on a bearing of 110 degrees for Cooroona; at seventeen miles made Cooroona. Camped fifteen miles beyond.
Saturday, 11th September. Arrived at Mr. Thompson’s station, Mount Arden.
I cannot conclude this narrative of my first journey, without acknowledging that it was with the advice and assistance of my friend Mr. Finke SOLELY, that I undertook this exploration of the country. I therefore look upon him as the original pioneer (if I may be allowed so to express myself) of all my subsequent expeditions, in which our friend Mr. Chambers afterwards joined.
8 It will probably be recollected that Mr. Babbage was sent out by the Government to make a north-west course through the continent, but, when at the Elizabeth, he made an unaccountable detour, and found himself at Port Augusta, his original starting-point. On my return from this journey he called on me at Mount Arden, when I furnished him with such information as he required, and he again started, and made Chambers’ Creek, which I had previously found and named after my old friend, Mr. James Chambers, but which he called Stuart’s Creek in acknowledgment of my information, etc. J. McD. Stuart.
9 These pig-faces belong to the Mesembryaceae, of which the common ice-plant of our gardens is an example.
10 This “wooded country” afterwards turned out to be sand hills, with scrub.
11 It is commonly supposed that the native dingo or wild dog does not bark. This is an error. The dog in this instance being black and tan, was probably a hybrid. (See below.)
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00