Journals of Australian Explorations
by A C and F T Gregory
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15th May.

Continued preparation of maps; party employed in preparations for the journey to the Gulf of Carpentaria, camp duties, and preparing oakum for the schooner. Having found that the pork had been so much reduced in weight during the late journey, I made some experiments in the preparation of meat biscuits by mixing the preserved fresh beef with flour in equal proportions, with satisfactory results, as the reduction in weight by baking was 33 per cent.

16th May.

Party employed as before.

17th May.

Party employed as before.

18th May (Sunday).

19th May.

Messrs. Wilson, Elsey, and Mueller being desirous of proceeding up the Baines River to collect specimens, etc., made the necessary arrangements for the same, and they therefore proceeded in the boat with Phibbs, Humphries, and Shewell to the schooner; the men were then to return to the camp with a cargo of stores; and Messrs. Wilson, Elsey, and Mueller were to proceed up Baines' River in the small boat which they were to obtain from the schooner. Richards is in charge of the sheep; Macdonald cook during the week; Bowman and Melville in charge of horses; Dean preparing saddle-bags and harness; Fahey and Selby burning charcoal and general camp duties.

20th May.

Party employed as before. The weather continues fine, with southerly winds.

21st May.

Party employed as before.

22nd May.

Party employed as before. At noon the boat returned from the schooner with stores; Captain Gourlay also came up in the gig to the camp; he informed me that the schooner now only made ten inches of water per day, and that she would be ready for sea so soon as the upper seams were caulked, and that he considered her perfectly seaworthy for the purpose of the expedition.

23rd May.

Party employed as before.

24th May.

Despatched the boat to the schooner with three cases containing sationery, tobacco, clothing, etc. Captain Gourlay returned to the Tom Tough.

25th May (Sunday).


26th May.

Party employed preparing equipment for the journey to the Gulf of Carpentaria.

27th May.

As before.

29th May.

Party employed as before. Messrs. Wilson, Elsey, and Mueller returned with the long-boat and gig from the schooner, having been about thirty miles up Baines' River to the south-west of Curiosity Hill. Mr. Wilson brought a native in the boat from Stony Spit.

30th May.

Party employed as before, and packing stores to be put on board the schooner.

31st May.

Party employed as before.

1st June (Sunday).

2nd June.

Party employed preparing saddlery and equipment for the journey to the Gulf of Carpentaria.

3rd June.

Mr. Baines proceeded in the boat to the schooner (which was now anchored below the shoals), conveying a quantity of stores. Boat's crew: Phibbs, Humphries, Dean, and Selby; remainder of party at the camp employed as before. Preparing map of route up the Victoria River, etc.

4th June.

Party employed as before, namely, shoeing horses, restuffing saddles, and other preparations for journey to the Gulf of Carpentaria. Received from Mr. Wilson a journal of his proceedings from 31st January to 3rd March, and 1st April to 14th May.

5th June.

Party at camp employed as before. Mr. Baines returned with the gig. Boat's crew: Phibbs, Humphries, Dean, Selby, and Dawson, also one of the seaman belonging to the schooner; received a note from the master of the Tom Tough, complaining that Dawson had used abusive language to Mr. Gourlay; but as it appeared that considerable provocation had been given, I only reprimanded Dawson for his conduct. Mr. Baines informed me that on the 4th instant he had landed early in the day from the schooner, in company with Captain Gourlay, Dawson, and one of the seamen (Adams), for the purpose of bartering with a party of natives, about twenty in number. The blacks having been allowed to come close to the boat, stole a tomahawk, and on Adams making a demonstration of detaining one of their number until the stolen article was returned, one of the blacks seized his gun and tried to wrest it from him; but, Captain Gourlay approaching, he ran into the bush, and the rest of the blacks retired; the party then returned to the schooner. The tomahawk was afterwards found in the water near where the boat had landed.

6th June.

Party employed as before; the shoeing of the horses progresses rapidly, Mr. H. Gregory and Bowman shoeing five horses each day, although some of them are very restive.

7th June.

Mr. Elsey proceeded in the gig with Phibbs, Humphries, Selby, and Adams, conveying the two sick men and boy belonging to the schooner crew to the Tom Tough. Mr. Wilson requested me to hold an investigation into the circumstances attending the landing of a party from the Tom Tough on the 4th instant, to traffic with the blacks, as he deemed it very imprudent, when so large a number of natives were assembled on the shore, to land with only four persons, though they were all armed; and adverted to the possible results of such a proceeding, which he said might have terminated the hitherto undisturbed harmony which had been maintained by the parties in his charge during my absence in their intercourse with the aborigines, and stated that he considered the evidence of men who were not present, but on board the schooner at the time of the party landing, was more to be relied on than Mr. Baines' statement, which had been made before the officers generally. As Mr. Baines had minutely detailed the whole transaction to me, and nothing farther was alleged by Mr. Wilson, who appeared to be actuated by no friendly feelings towards Mr. Baines, and my investigation would have only been an expression of a want of confidence in the veracity of Mr. Baines, which I could not entertain, I informed Mr. Wilson that I did not see any necessity for the investigation suggested. Party employed preparing equipment, shoeing horses, baking meat biscuits, etc. Rain at night.

8th June (Sunday).


9th June.

Completed shoeing the horses; party employed making small tents and saddle-bags, fitting pack-saddles, baking biscuits; Dr. Mueller collecting and arranging botanical specimens.


10th June.

Party employed as before, and preparing extra shoes for the horses, etc. Mr. Elsey returned with the gig from the schooner; boat's crew: Phibbs, Humphries, and Selby; the sick men had reached the vessel without any serious difficulty, although the boat grounded on the banks, and was thereby detained till next tide, and thus kept them several hours exposed to the rain.

11th June.

Party employed as before.

12th June.

Completed baking 300 pounds of preserved beef and 300 pounds of flour into biscuits, which weighed 480 pounds when dry. A 6-pound tin of beef, with the soup and fat, was added to 6 pounds of flour, 1 ounce of salt (no water being used), and the whole made up into dough and baked in the ordinary form of sea biscuits; the result was 8 pounds, and thus 1 1/4 pounds contained 1 pound of flour and 1 pound of meat.

13th June.

Mr. Baines proceeded with Phibbs, Humphries, and Selby in the gig to the Tom Tough, with stores not required at the camp, and for the purpose of returning with soap and other stores required for the outfit of the land expedition. Party employed as before. Mr. Wilson completed and furnished to me a sketch of the Western branch of the Victoria River, which had been discovered by Mr. Baines in December, 1855, while searching for stray horses, and which I had then named after him. Preparing maps, etc., for transmission to the Governor-General of Australia.

14th June.

Wrote to Governor-General, reporting progress of the North Australian Expedition. Party employed as before; set of spare horse-shoes completed.

15th June (Sunday).

The weather has been remarkably cool and clear for several days, the temperature at sunrise 48 to 52 degrees.

16th June.

Mr. Baines returned from the schooner with the gig and long-boat (boat's crew as before) bringing the stores required for the land party. Party at the camp preparing equipment for expedition to the Gulf of Carpentaria. Mr. Wilson requested to be informed whether I had decided to attach him to the party which was to be organised at the Gulf of Carpentaria for the exploration of the country towards Moreton Bay, and in reply I informed him that so many unforeseen circumstances might occur before reaching the Albert River to require me to modify any arrangements made at the present time, that I should not select the individuals to form that party till we reached the Albert River. Received from Mr. Wilson a letter stating that unless I would now decide that he was to form one of the party proceeding from the Albert River overland to Moreton Bay, he was desirous of resigning his appointment of geologist to the North Australian Expedition. Wrote to Mr. Wilson in reply, stating that I could not comply with his request.

17th June.

Preparing copies of letters to Governor-General of Australia for transmission to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Party preparing for journey to the Gulf of Carpentaria. Received from Mr. Wilson a letter stating that he declined to perform any further duties as an officer of the North Australian Expedition unless I complied with certain conditions therein named. Wrote to Mr. Wilson in reply, and informed him that he was henceforth suspended from any command in the Expedition. As I could not now include Mr. Wilson in the party proceeding to the Albert River by land, I requested Dr. Mueller to prepare to take Mr. Wilson's place in the party.

18th June.

Issued a general order, Number 4, suspending Mr. Wilson from any further command in the exploring party till further orders. Party employed as before—preparing equipment. Received from Mr. Wilson a letter relative to his being suspended from any further command in the party.

19th June.

Wrote to Mr. Baines instructing him to take charge of the portion of the North Australian Expedition proceeding in the Tom Tough to the Albert River. Preparing equipment for explorations towards the Gulf of Carpentaria.

20th June.

Wrote to the Governor-General of Australia, forwarding copies of correspondence with Mr. Wilson. Wrote to Secretary of State for the Colonies forwarding copies of despatches to the Governor-General. Wrote to master of Tom Tough schooner, instructing him to proceed to Coepang for supplies, and thence to Albert River. Wrote to Mr. Baines two letters of instructions; inspected equipment, and fitted the saddles of the party proceeding overland to the Gulf of Carpentaria. Wrote to Mr. Wilson a letter in reply to his communication of the 18th.


21st June.

At 10.0 a.m. left the principal camp on the Victoria with a party consisting of Messrs. H. Gregory, Elsey, and Dr. Mueller, Robert Bowman, Charles Dean, and J. Melville, seven saddle and twenty-seven pack horses, conveying five months' provisions of salt pork and meat biscuits, and six months' supply of flour, tea, sugar, coffee, etc., twenty-six pounds of gunpowder, sixty pounds bullets, 1 hundredweight shot, 5000 caps, etc. Proceeding up the left bank of the Victoria, crossed the ridge at back of Steep Head, and at 3.15 p.m. camped about three-quarters of a mile above it on the bank of the river.

22nd June (Sunday).

At 7.30 a.m. left the camp and followed the river up for ten miles, and then along a small creek four miles south-south-east; but the country proving very steep and rocky, returned one mile and camped at 3 p.m.

23rd June.

Left the camp at 7.0 a.m., and returned down the valley of the creek to the river, and kept along the bank of the Victoria to the junction of Beagle Creek. We ascended for five miles, and camped at 11.0, as there was no water between this point and the Victoria at Bynoe Range on the Beagle Valley route, and the distance was too great to be commenced at this late hour of the day.

24th June.

Started at 7.0 a.m., and steered east through an open box forest nearly level and well grassed. The grass had been burnt off by the blacks, but had shot up to a foot in height. Passed to the south of the Fitzroy Range; the valley between it and Stokes' Range similar to Beagle Valley, and about four miles wide. Keeping close to Stokes' Range, passed behind some of the detached hills at 4.20 p.m. Reached our old camp of the 5th May, and found the stores we had left secreted in the rocks undisturbed.

25th June.

Having distributed the stores which had been left here in May among the several pack-horses, at 7.15 a.m. resumed our route up the river, and crossed to the right bank two miles above the creek we intended to ascend, and camped at 11.0. Marked a large gum-tree Delta V.

Latitude by b and a2 Centauri 15 degrees 39 minutes 17 seconds.


26th June.

Left the camp at 7.0 a.m., and followed the creek upwards to the east-south-east for five miles. The valley was about one mile wide, with fine grassy flats, bounded by sandstone cliffs 50 to 200 feet high, and forming tableland with deep ravines. The valley now turned to the east and east-north-east; some small tributaries joined the creek from the south-east, the sandstone cliffs disappeared, and the outline of the hills became rounded and rose about 300 feet above the creek. Shallow pools of water with dry shingle between, and an occasional deep waterhole, characterised the channel of the watercourse. At 1.30 p.m. camped on the left bank of the creek in an open grassy flat; the higher land very stony and indifferent.

Latitude by Canopus 15 degrees 40 minutes 49 seconds.

27th June.

The temperature was lower at sunrise this morning than on any other day since landing in North Australia, being only 41 degrees. A little dew on the grass, and a light air from the east. At 6.50 a.m. started and followed up the creek to the east-north-east till 1.0 p.m., when we camped at a deep pool of water 20 yards wide and 200 yards long. Our attempts to procure fish were unsuccessful. The country consisted of low stony hills, thinly wooded, and the flats of the creek from a quarter to three quarters of a mile wide continued to be well grassed. On the north side of the creek a few miles back the hills rose to a greater elevation, and formed table-topped hills; some with cliffs of sandstone near the summits, and others smooth grassy slopes. The latter, from the colour of the grass, appeared to be of trap formation, and fragments of this rock were found in the bed of the creek. Soft shales were exposed in the gullies and on the sides of the hills, and were overlaid compact gray sandstones.

Latitude by b Centauri, a2 Centauri and Arcturus 15 degrees 37 minutes 15 seconds.

28th June.

Left the camp at 7.15 a.m., and followed up the creek to the east-north-east till noon, when we reached the last water in its channel near a steep range of sandstone hills, or rather tablelands; the country traversed was an undulating plain of trap formation resting on gray sandstone; it is thinly wooded, and well grassed; water was abundant in the creek below the camp; above the channel was dry, and soon divided into small gullies; in the afternoon ascended a hill three-quarters of a mile north-west of the camp; the lower portion was a dark compact trap or basalt, and the summit a horizontal bed of sandstone about 200 feet above the camp; the country to the north was very level, and only occasionally interrupted by flat-topped sandstone hills, the view extending at least thirty miles; to the south and south-west a country of trap formation extended for twenty miles, and to the east the tableland rose about 300 feet above the camp, and was composed of the same strata as the hill ascended, but surmounted by the ferruginous conglomerate, which is the highest rock of the new red sandstone series.

Latitude by b Centauri, a Centauri and Arcturus 15 degrees 33 minutes 13 seconds.


29th June.

At 6.45 a.m. left the camp with Mr. H. Gregory to reconnoitre the country to the east; ascending the tableland, steered east till 10.0 through a level forest of stringybark and other eucalypti; the soil a light gravelly loam, but well grassed; we then turned north-north-east for one hour, along a shallow watercourse, and then east through level forest country till 3.20 p.m., when we reached a small stream-bed trending north-north-east, tracing it through wide grassy flats, which were on fire; at 4.40 found a small pool of water, where we halted for the night.

30th June.

As this appeared to be a spot to which the party could be advanced with safety, we left our bivouac at 6.50 a.m.; returning across the tableland, reached the camp at 4.30 p.m.

1st July.

At 6.40 a.m. started an average course of 80 degrees magnetic, and reached the waterholes in the small creek at 3.30 p.m. with the whole party, and camped at our bivouac of the 29th June.

Latitude by b Centauri 15 degrees 30 minutes 19 seconds.

2nd July.

At 6.30 a.m. left the camp and followed the creek down to the east-north-east till 11.0 a.m.; it then turned more to the northward, and was nearly lost in wide level flats covered with high grass; the back country level stringybark forest, with good grass; at 2.25 p.m. the channel of the creek again collected, and we found a small waterhole twenty yards long and four feet deep, at which we camped; here we observed the fires of a party of blacks who had camped at the waterhole the previous day; small heaps of mussel-shells lay at intervals along the banks of the creek, though the channel was perfectly dry; but it appears that during the last wet season less rain has fallen than usual, and the soil has not been fully saturated, and consequently the waterholes have dried up sooner than in average years; although from the level character and geological features of the country, we are now on the tableland which divides the waters flowing to the north-west coast from those which fall into the Gulf of Carpentaria, the elevation of the country does not exceed 800 feet above the sea.

Latitude by Centauri and Arcturus 15 degrees 18 minutes 33 seconds.

3rd July.

Starting at 7.30 a.m., followed the creek to the north-east by east till 8.25, when it was joined by a small creek from the south; thus increased water was abundant in the bed of the creek, but the pools were shallow and not permanent. Grassy flats extended for a mile on each bank of the creek, beyond which the level forest of stringybark, bloodwood, and box was well grassed; the soil a good red loam. In a few spots fragments of limestone and agate were strewed over the surface, and an occasional ridge of ironstone conglomerate was crossed on which the grass was indifferent. At 12.45 p.m. camped in a wide grassy flat, where the grass, having been burnt early in the season, had sprung up again quite fresh and green.

Latitude by a2 Centauri 15 degrees 11 minutes 24 seconds; variation of compass 2 degrees 10 minutes east.

4th July.

We were again in the saddle at 7.10 a.m., and, steering 70 degrees magnetic, diverged from the creek, traversing a level grassy forest of stringybark with abundance of green grass; at 8.0 turned north-east; the forest became more open, and the stringybark was replaced by bloodwood and box; limestone rock was frequent, and rendered the surface of the country very rough; and frequent depressions of the surface appeared to result from the falling-in of the roofs of caverns beneath which were farther indicated by deep clefts and holes in the rock, into which the surface waters flow during the rains. At 11.0 a.m. turned north, and at noon again struck the creek, which gradually turned to the north-north-east; limestone formed the banks, and only one small pool was seen till 4.50 p.m., when we found a little water in the sandy bed of a tributary creek from the south-south-east, at which we encamped. On the bank of the creek we this day first observed the casuarina, which is so frequent on the banks of the creeks trending towards the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Latitude by Arcturus and a Coronae Borealis 14 degrees 54 minutes 2 seconds.

5th July.

As the course of the creek was to the north-west, and we had already been driven further north than was desirable, we left the creek and followed up the tributary to the east-south-east, leaving the camp at 7.5 a.m. The channel was soon lost on the wide grassy flats, in one of which was a fine waterhole covered with nymphae, near which a party of blacks were encamped. On our approach most of the women decamped with their bags and nets containing their valuables, while the men stood spear in hand gazing on the strange sight, as we passed them. Continuing up the creek, the course of which was only marked for some distance by the nature of the vegetation, which indicated occasional inundations, it again formed a shallow irregular channel in the centre of an open box flat, and at 1.30 p.m. camped at a small waterhole in the channel.

Latitude by meridian altitude of the sun 14 degrees 55 minutes 15 seconds.


6th July.

The small size of the creek affording little prospect of water nearer to its source, and as Mr. H. Gregory was suffering from a severe attack of fever, which rendered travelling unadvisable, I proceeded with Charles Dean to examine the country to the east-south-east. Leaving the camp at 7.0 a.m., steered 120 degrees magnetic; at eight crossed a sandstone ridge covered with acacia scrub, and again descended into the valley of the creek, passing some fine grassy plains, and at 11.0 ascended the level tableland, the edge of which was covered with acacia scrub, beyond which we passed a level flat acacia scrub and small trees, and at noon entered a stringybark forest with occasional patches of bloodwood, leguminous ironbark, and sterculia. The soil varied from a brown loam to ironstone gravel, and in a few spots ferruginous conglomerate was visible. On the loamy soil the grass was good and abundant, but the gravel was covered with spiny treraphis. This tableland was so level that no declivity could be detected during the continuance of our day's journey, which lasted till 5.30, when we bivouacked without water; by taking the precaution of letting the horses feed on the outward track, and secreting ourselves after dark in the high grass, we passed the night without the necessity of keeping watch after midnight.

7th July.

Our horses having strayed back on the track, we carried our saddles and tracked them about two miles, and then mounting our horses steered north for some miles; but all was level forest without any sign of the existence of water, except a few cockatoos. I then turned to the south-west; crossing the outward track, and at length came on a shallow watercourse trending west, a ridge of rocks having confined the channel to a narrow space; three small waterholes were discovered in which a little water remained; below this the creek turned south-south-east, and I again turned towards the camp; but night overtaking us in the stringybark forest, we passed to the south of the camp without observing its position.

8th July.

Having ascertained that we had passed the position of the camp, turned to the north-east and reached the camp at 11.20. Mr. H. Gregory was somewhat recovered, but very weak from a violent attack of fever. During my absence a small party of blacks had visited the camp and had bivouacked a short distance up the creek.

9th July.

Moved the camp to the waterholes twelve miles south-east, and in the afternoon rode down the creek with Mr. Elsey; the creek turned to the south-south-east for a mile and a half, and was lost on a level flat, from which a channel trended to the west, which was again lost in a level flat extending to the west several miles. Heavy showers at night.


10th July.

Accompanied by Mr. Elsey, I proceeded to reconnoitre the country to the south-east, and at 7.45 a.m. steered 130 degrees, gradually ascending the tableland, and which was openly wooded with bloodwood, box, and white-gum; acacia and sterculia occasionally appearing. The soil was brown sandy loam with a few ridges of sandstone rock of white colour; grass had been abundant, but was now burnt off. The small white-ant nests from two to five feet high were very numerous; at 12.40 p.m. a slight depression in the country was observed, and limestone appeared, and deep hollows were frequent. One of these hollows which I examined was thirty yards in diameter and fifteen feet deep; in the centre was a deep cleft of fifteen feet more, which extended to the east and west under the surface with a width of three feet; at 3.0 struck a small creek trending east-north-east with a few small pools of water in the channel; in following down the creek in search of a sufficient supply of water for the horses, we passed some blacks sitting at a fire near the creek; at 3.30 came to a pool sufficient for the supply of the whole party, below which the channel was dry; returning to the pool we met the blacks following our tracks, but, observing us, they ran away, and on being followed hid themselves; having unsaddled, we commenced our dinner and soon saw the blacks watching us from their hiding places, and after some time spent in making signs, they were induced to approach, the oldest of the party feigning to weep bitterly till they got close to us, when we commenced an attempt at conversation, and they appeared to recognise some few words of the language of the Victoria River. Their spears were formed of reeds with large heads of white sandstone, and also with three wooden points for fishing. They were circumcised and had their front teeth remaining; at 5.0 steered to the west-north-west for one hour, and bivouacked to secure ourselves from an attack during the night.

11th July.

At 6.30 a.m., resumed our route towards the camp, and reached it about 1.0 p.m., without observing anything of farther remark.

Latitude by a2 Centauri 15 degrees 2 minutes 49 seconds.


12th July.

The grass near the camp having been burnt off, the horses had scattered very much, and could not be collected and saddled before 10.0 a.m., when we followed our track of yesterday and reached the pool of water at sunset. The country was so level, although we were crossing the watershed between the north-west coast and the Gulf of Carpentaria, that the aneroid only varied from 29.55 to 29.62, and even of this change the greater part was caused by alteration of the temperature. The geological character of this portion of the country differs slightly from that of the Victoria River. The upper stratum is a bed of ironstone conglomerate about twenty feet thick, this rests on sandstone, the upper part of which is highly ferruginous, then passes away into a variegated sandstone imperfectly stratified, changing into a hard siliceous sandstone which is white and breaks with a conchoidal fracture; this rests on a hard cherty sandstone similar to that of the Victoria River. In this rock many depressions occur, which is apparently caused by the roofs of caverns falling in and there are usually deep fissures in the rock at the bottom of these hollows, in which all the water that drains into them is absorbed; in some places the sandstone resting on the limestone has sunk many feet below the general level, with areas varying from one to ten acres, sometimes sloping towards a centre ten to thirty feet below the plain, and in other spots with abrupt rocky banks five to eight feet high and a perfectly level bottom. The level character of the country is unfavourable for investigations of this nature, and the thickness of the several strata not easily determined; but I think that the collective thickness of the several strata above the limestone does not exceed 100 feet. The porous nature of the lower rocks preclude the existence of permanent surface water by draining the whole of the upper part of the tableland, while it forms strong springs in the lower ground towards the banks of the Roper River, where the limestone is exposed on the surface.

Latitude by a Coronae Borealis 15 degrees 14 minutes 31 seconds.


13th July (Sunday).

Leaving the camp at 8.30 a.m., proceeding down the creek, mistook a tributary for the main creek; following it south for two hours, when it spread into small gullies, and we had to return to the creek, which had now a northerly course, and at 4.25 camped about three miles from our starting point in the morning. The country passed over was of a very poor character, stiff clay flats, with melaleuca scrub in the valley, while low but steep ridges of sandstone rose to the east, and were timbered with stringybark and bloodwood, etc.; to the south the country seemed to rise slightly, but was very poor and sandy. The smoke of bush fires were visible to the south, east, and north, and several trees cut with iron axes were noticed near the camp. There was also the remains of a hut and the ashes of a large fire, indicating that there had been a party encamped there for several weeks; several trees from six to eight inches diameter had been cut down with iron axes in fair condition, and the hut built by cutting notches in standing trees and resting a large pole therein for a ridge; this hut had been burnt apparently by the subsequent bush fires, and only some pieces of the thickest timber remained unconsumed. Search was made for marked trees, but none found, nor were there any fragments of iron, leather, or other material of the equipment of an exploring party, or of any bones of animals other than those common to Australia. Had an exploring party been destroyed here, there would most likely have been some indications, and it may therefore be inferred that the party had proceeded on its journey. It could not have been a camp of Leichhardt's in 1845, as it is 100 miles south-west of his route to Port Essington, and it was only six or seven years old, judging by the growth of the trees; having subsequently seen some of Leichhardt's camps on the Burdekin, Mackenzie, and Barcoo Rivers, a great similarity was observed in regard to the mode of building the hut, and its relative position in regard to the fire and water supply, and the position in regard to the great features of the country was exactly where a party going westward would first receive a check from the waterless tableland between the Roper and Victoria Rivers, and would probably camp and reconnoitre ahead before attempting to cross to the north-west coast. This creek is named Elsey Creek on the map.


14th July.

Resuming our journey at 8.10 a.m., steered north-east down the valley of the creek, which I named Elsey Creek, after the surgeon of the expedition. Its course was generally to the north-east, but spreading into lagoons and swampy flats, became very tortuous and irregular. It then changed to a very winding reach of water fifty to sixty yards wide, with low banks covered with reeds and tall melaleuca-trees, beyond which was a belt of pandanus growing on the drier ground. Many small springs rose in the limestone rock and ran into the creek, on the banks of which large quantities of mussel-shells showed the frequent camps of the blacks. The banks of the creek and springs were so soft and boggy that our horses could not approach the water, and we followed its banks in search of a spot where they could drink in safety, till 4.0, without success, and having camped, had to water the horses with our leather buckets.

Latitude by a2 Centauri and a Coronae Borealis 15 degrees 5 minutes 35 seconds.


15th July.

Leaving our camp at 7.10 a.m., steered north-east till 9.0, over level country, which appeared to be very swampy in the rainy season; altered the course to 10 degrees magnetic, and crossed a small dry watercourse which proved to be a continuation of Elsey Creek. At 11.0 turned 60 degrees magnetic, and shortly came on the bank of a fine river with banks thirty to forty feet high, and fine reaches of water fifty to eighty yards wide; at 11.45 camped at the junction of Elsey Creek and the river, which appears to be the Roper of Dr. Leichhardt. The fan-palm was frequently seen on the banks of Elsey Creek, where it obtained a height of fifty to eighty feet, and had a thicker stem and produced a more palatable vegetable than the species growing on the banks of the Victoria River.


16th July.

At 7.5 a.m. recommenced our journey, following down the Roper River east and north-east; about a mile below the camp the limestone rocks formed a bar, over which the river ran with a rapid current ten yards wide and two feet deep; the banks became lower and the surface of the country extremely level. The overflows of the river had formed shallow lagoons, in which the nelumbium or gigantic water-lily was first seen. A ridge of low sandstone hills came close to the left bank, and on the right a vast level plain, covered with high grass and reeds, extending two or three miles back. This plain is evidently inundated during the wet season, though the soil was now dry and full of deep cracks. The river divided into several small shallow channels full of reeds, and each with a small stream of water, the deep green of the vegetation along the course of the running water contrasting strongly with the parched vegetation of the other portions of the plain. Clumps of melaleuca occurred at intervals, and at a distance appeared like low hills. At 2.0 p.m. camped at the end of a low basaltic ridge, which approached the bank of the river from the south. A range of flat-topped hills extended to the north-east from the river, about eight miles distant, to the north-west of the camp; they appeared wooded, and 200 to 300 feet high. Bowman rode down a young emu, which supplied us with a meal of fresh meat.

Latitude by a Coronae Borealis 14 degrees 50 minutes 56 seconds.

17th July.

At 7.0 a.m. steered east-south-east, following the bank of the river for a mile, when, to avoid the high grass and reeds, altered the course to south-east till 8.10; then steering 100 degrees magnetic till 9.25, when we camped on a small waterhole, there being abundance of water. The river appears to turn to the north and enter a range of hills, which trends north and south a few miles to the east of our camp. The country traversed this day is all well grassed and thinly timbered with terminalia, box, and silver-leafed ironbark; trap-rock visible in several places, and the soil was a good red loam. The metallic barometer has a second time suddenly deviated from the aneroid barometer, and the form of the vacuum vessel has visibly altered, the construction being too slight to bear the motion of the pack-horse, though one of the steadiest animals had been selected to carry the instruments, and they are always surrounded with blankets.

Latitude by meridian altitude of the sun 14 degrees 53 minutes 16 seconds.

18th July.

As this was a suitable camp for resting the party, and grass was abundant, I rode to the south-east with Mr. H. Gregory to look for a route towards the head of the Wickham River; our course was along a valley between the trap hills to the west and a sandstone range to the east. About eight miles reached a creek trending north-east; its channel was dry and sandy, but after some search found a small pool of water in a side channel; casuarina and flooded-gum trees grew on the banks of the creek, and there was some good grass on the flats, which were limited by sandstone hills densely wooded with acacia of the same species as that seen on the lower part of Sturt's Creek. After an hour's halt at the pool of water we returned to camp.


19th July.

The horses having scattered much during the night, it was 8 a.m. before they were collected and saddled; we then followed our track of yesterday to the pool in the creek, eight miles south-east, reaching it at 11.45. The sandstones here showed a decided dip to the west, at angles varying from 5 degrees to 30 degrees, and the trap-rocks only extended five miles from the previous camp. In the afternoon five natives were observed watching the camp, and finding they were observed by us came up to the party, but could not be induced to speak a single word; they soon after retired. They had no spears, and were followed by a small dog. Their teeth were entire, but they were all circumcised. At 8.0 p.m. the blacks were detected stealing into the camp, and, though we called upon them to retire, only hid themselves in the grass; but as it was absolutely necessary for our own safety to dislodge them from their position, I caused a gun to be fired in the air, hoping that they would retire, but they commenced to ship their spears, and I therefore ordered a charge of shot to be fired at them, which had the desired effect of compelling them to retreat. What their object was in thus approaching the camp at night, unless for hostile purposes, we had no means of ascertaining; but the aboriginal Australian considers it an act of positive hostility to approach a camp in silence at night.

Latitude by a Coronae Borealis 14 degrees 59 minutes 6 seconds.

20th July.

Starting at 7.30 a.m., steered south-east over an undulating sandstone country, well grassed, but very stony and thinly wooded; a low range of rocky hills, nearly parallel to our route, lay to the south-west, and at 11.20 a.m. we camped at a fine running stream in a rocky ravine in this range; the grass was, however, very dry and inferior near the range.

Latitude by a Coronae Borealis 15 degrees 4 minutes 31 seconds.

21st July.

The horses had shown an unusual desire to stray during the night, and as we had reason to apprehend a visit from the blacks, they were kept close to the camp; at 6.20 a.m. steered south-east, crossing a tableland about 250 feet above the camp, and at 8.0 a.m. descended by a rocky gully, in which was a fine spring, into a grassy valley, which varied from a few yards to a mile in breadth, bounded by sandstone hills, the strata of which were not well defined, but appeared to have a considerable dip to the west-south-west; in the upper part of the valley the creek was well supplied with water, but as we advanced into the lower ground the channel was dry, though increased to twenty yards wide and ten to fifteen feet deep; at 11.15 a.m. one of the horses, Prince, was observed to be unwell, and at 1.20 p.m. a second horse, Bob, was noticed to be suffering from illness, having bled them, we proceeded down the creek in search of water at which the party could halt, and found a small waterhole at 2.20 p.m., but the two sick horses dropped dead about 150 yards before reaching it; their loads had been previously removed to the saddle-horses; as soon as the camp had been formed Mr. Elsey and Dr. Mueller examined the dead horses to ascertain the cause of death, and it appeared from the state of extreme inflammation of the stomachs that they had eaten some poisonous plant; but the food was too much comminuted to admit of the plants eaten being recognised.

Latitude by a Coronae Borealis 15 degrees 12 minutes 46 seconds.

22nd July.

At 7.10 a.m. resumed our journey down the valley of the creek to the east and east-north-east, passing a fine lagoon with nelumbium and a number of pelicans; at 8.30 a.m. crossed two large creeks and passed a second lagoon, 70 yards by 300 yards. The principal creek now turned to the north, and our course was along the foot of a sandstone range 200 feet high, till 12.40 p.m., when, altering the course to south-east, we ascended the range and crossed the level sandy tableland covered with scrub; descending to the south, found a small dry watercourse in an open valley, and followed it in search of water to the north-west till 4.0 p.m., when we found a small pool of rainwater, at which we camped.

Latitude by a Trianguli Australis 15 degrees 13 minutes 6 seconds.

23rd July.

The horses had strayed so far in search of green grass that we did not start till 10.30 a.m., when we steered south-east, crossing a spur of the tableland which lay to the south-west; then crossing several valleys and small watercourses trending to the north-east, camped at a shallow waterhole at 3.20 p.m. The country was of sandstone formation and the soil very poor, melaleuca scrubs prevailing on the lower ground, and eucalypti, acacia, and grevillia on the hills; to the south-west the hills were rocky, with a rounded outline, but to the north-east they were flat-topped and of less height. The sandstones are often at a considerable angle, but in no general direction, a thin bed of ferruginous conglomerate rests on hard gray sandstone, imperfectly stratified, beneath which shales of various colours exist; on the exposed surface of the shales observed an efflorescence of sulphate of magnesia.

Latitude by a Coronae Borealis and a Trianguli Australis 15 degrees 18 minutes 48 seconds.


24th July.

Resuming our route at 7.20 a.m., steered south-east and ascended a sandstone range with horizontal strata and very abrupt on the south-east side. Entering a wide valley, crossed two small watercourses, the second of which was running apparently from springs, as several clumps of the melaleuca grew on the slope of the sandstone hills from which they came. Crossing a second spur of the tableland, descended to a small creek with waterholes and narrow grassy flats, the general character of the country being very poor and scrubby.

Latitude by a Coronae Borealis and a Trianguli Australis 15 degrees 38 minutes 56 seconds.

25th July.

At 7.40 a.m. left the camp, and steered south-east through a succession of miserable scrubs of eucalypti, grevillia, acacia, and jacksonia, with patches of melaleuca. At 1.30 p.m. crossed a ridge of steep sandstone rocks, and gradually descended till 2.55, when we camped on a small gully coming from the south, and in which a little water remained, and on the bank some dry grass of very inferior kind. Since leaving the Roper River the general character of the country has been worthless; the small size of the watercourses indicating an arid country to the south-west of our route. Few traces of blacks have been seen, though vast columns of smoke rise to the east and south-east; animals or birds are rarely seen. The rocky nature of the country has caused the horses' shoes to wear out rapidly, and the day seldom passes without having to replace the shoes of several of the horses.

Latitude by a Coronae Borealis and a Trianguli Australis 15 degrees 40 minutes 19 seconds.

26th July.

At 8.0 a.m. steered south-east, soon entering a scrub of acacia, melaleuca, and grevillia, with a few eucalypti; the soil sandy, with a few blocks of gray sandstone; some small dry watercourses trended to the north. At noon crossed a large creek trending to the south-south-east through a very rocky valley, and the whole country was very barren and rocky. At 2.35 p.m. recrossed the creek, which here turned to the east and north-east. After following it down for an hour, found a small patch of grass, and encamped. The bed of the creek was very rocky and well supplied with water in shallow pools.

Latitude by a Coronae Borealis and a Trianguli Australis 15 degrees 50 minutes 2 seconds.


27th July (Sunday).

Resumed our route at 7.0 a.m., crossing a very rocky ridge of hills, in descending which one of the horses wedged his foot into a cleft of the rock, and falling down, was only released by beating the rock away with an axe. Fortunately, though much cut and bruised, there was no serious injury. With some difficulty we extricated ourselves from these rocky ridges, and, crossing a large creek, entered a level plain covered with melaleuca scrub. Crossing two sandy creeks fifteen and twenty yards wide with shallow pools, at noon reached a barren range of white sandstone hills, rising about 250 feet. Beyond this entered an open grassy plain, with clumps of melaleuca-trees, indicating the existence of springs of water, one of which we reached at 1.25 p.m., and encamped. The country passed is of a worthless description, there being very little grass, and the soil very poor and stony. The sandstones are of gray colour, and not regularly stratified; but where it could be ascertained the bedding was horizontal, and the lamina dipping 20 degrees to 30 degrees to the north, but often in the opposite direction. These sandstones are at least 200 feet thick, and rest on soft shales of white-brown and green colour.

Latitude by a Trianguli Australis 15 degrees 55 minutes 20 seconds.

28th July.

The indifferent character of the country having caused the horses to stray in search of better food, we were delayed till 8.30 a.m., when we steered south-east over several low ridges of sandstone, wooded with white and paper-bark gum, with triodia in the hollows. Small dry watercourses trended to the north-east and north. At 10.20 crossed a creek ten yards wide, with pools of water, and at 1.5 p.m. a second of the same size, which trended to the east, was followed till 1.50, when a small pool of water and a little grass enabled us to camp. The country continues to be of a bad description, and covered with scrub, though of a more open nature than before, the soil more gravelly, melaleuca less frequent, and eucalypti and triodia more abundant. The rock is a coarse gray sandstone, thick bedded with horizontal strata, the lamina dipping 30 degrees to north-east generally; but varying much, the peculiar marking on the surface of the rock resembling the rippling of water, is frequent, forming grooves two to four inches wide and half an inch deep.

Latitude by a Trianguli Australis 15 degrees 59 minutes 45 seconds.

29th July.

A dense fog was the unusual cause of delay in collecting our horses, as they could not be seen more than a few yards distant. At 8.45 a.m. steered south-east through scrubs of melaleuca, acacia, grevillia, and eucalypti; at 11.0 the country became more open, and entering a grassy plain extending five to eight miles to the east, where it was bounded by a low range of hills; to the south-west a level forest of white-gum ran parallel to our route. The soil was a brown clay-loam with pebbles of sandstone; a few box and bauhinia trees grew on the plain; the grass had been burnt off and sprung up again very green. At 1.20 p.m. came on a large dry creek trending north-east; it had several channels twenty yards wide with loose sandy beds, and was bordered by casuarina, melaleuca, and flooded-gum trees; following down the creek, at 1.15 camped at a shallow pool in one of the side channels. About three miles before we reached the camp Dr. Mueller had fallen some distance behind the party; but as this was a frequent occurrence in collecting botanical specimens, it was not observed till we reached the creek, when he was out of sight; after unsaddling the pack-horses I was preparing to send in search of him, when he came up to the camp, the cause of delay having been that his horse had knocked up. This was unfortunate, as the load of one of the pack-horses had to be distributed among the others, in order to remount the doctor, who requires stronger horses than any other person in the party, having knocked up four since January, while not one of the other riding-horses had failed, though carrying heavier weights.

Latitude by a Trianguli Australis 16 degrees 7 minutes 50 seconds.

30th July.

There being abundance of good grass at this camp, we remained this day to shoe some of the horses and repair harness, etc., and rest the horses; nor was I sorry to get a day of comparative rest, as I had been in the saddle every day since leaving the Victoria on the 21st June. Eleven of the horses were re-shod.


31st July.

Leaving the camp at 7.40 a.m., pursued a south-east course, soon leaving the grassy flats of the creek and entering a melaleuca scrub; at 8.20 ascended the tableland by a gentle slope; the country was now sandy with much bush of acacia, grevillia, and bossiaca, with triodia in the more open part of the forest, which consisted of paper-bark gums. The prevailing rock was ironstone conglomerate, and hard white sandstone sometimes appeared; after 10.0 the country declined to the south, and we passed through a belt of cypress scrub; at 1.15 p.m. altered the course to east-south-east; crossed a rough sandstone ridge and came on a deep valley with sandstone cliffs on each side; with some difficulty descended the rocks and reached a small watercourse which was quite dry; but observing some very green trees about a mile to the north-west at the foot of the rocks, turned towards them and found a fine spring of water flowing from the face of the cliff; selecting a suitable spot, encamped at 2.30. Near this spring were several huts constructed in the rudest manner by heaping branches together. From the summit of the hill the view extended thirty miles to the north-east, but no marked features were visible, the country only undulating slightly. The country too became more open and travelling easier, but no other improvement has been observed.

Latitude by a Trianguli Australis 16 degrees 17 minutes 5 seconds.

1st August.

At 7.30 a.m. left the camp and followed the valley to the south till 9.15, when a break in the sandstone cliffs which bounded the valley enabled us to ascend the hills and pursue our course to the south-east, crossing several ridges of sandstone, the strata dipping to the west, and becoming more shaly as we proceeded. Descending into a valley with a dry creek fifteen yards wide, the rocks on the south-east slope cherty limestone alternating with thin beds of shale, the strata dipping 20 degrees to 30 degrees west. The summit had a thin horizontal bed of ironstone conglomerate through which masses of white sandstone protruded. This limestone country was well grassed, and thinly timbered with eucalypti of small growth; at 1.20 p.m. altered the course to north-east and followed down a gully in search of water; but though it gradually enlarged to a considerable creek and we continued our search till 7.0, we were compelled to encamp without water. I then walked down the creek two miles, but only found one moist spot in which, by digging, a few pints of water were obtained.

2nd August.

At 6.5 a.m. resumed our search for water, and following the creek north-east for two hours reached a small muddy pool of rainwater, at which we encamped. The country near the creek was very level, and thinly-wooded low hills were visible in the distance to the south-east and north.

Latitude by a Trianguli Australis 16 degrees 16 minutes 25 seconds.

3rd August.

The water at this pool near our camp being nearly consumed, and nothing but thick mud remaining, we proceeded down the creek in search of a better supply; but it was not until we had followed its dry sandy bed for three hours that we attained our object, and encamped at a small pool in one of the back channels, the principal bed of the creek being perfectly dry. The country near the creek continues very level, and well grassed, but distant rocky hills are visible in almost every direction. In approaching the Gulf of Carpentaria heavy dews and fogs have become more frequent in the mornings, when it is usually calm. About 10.0 a.m. a breeze usually sets in from the eastward, varying from north to south-east; at sunset it falls calm, but commences again at 8.0 p.m. and blows moderately from the eastward for one or two hours; very thin misty clouds are frequent, and render the heat oppressive when they prevail. According to my reckoning, we are now only fifty miles from the sea-coast, and therefore much nearer Dr. Leichhardt's track than I could wish to traverse the country; but, however desirable a more inland route might be, it is evident, from the small size of the watercourses hitherto crossed, that we have been skirting a tableland which is doubtless a continuation of the desert into which we followed Sturt's Creek, and the small altitude of the country in which the watercourses trending towards the Gulf take their rise precludes the existence of any considerable drainage towards the interior.

Latitude by a Trianguli Australis 16 degrees 14 minutes 45 seconds.


4th August.

The general course of the creek being northerly, and our distance from the McArthur about 20 miles on the chart, steered south-east from 6.35 a.m., crossing many rocky sandstone ridges and hills, the strata of which dipped 20 degrees to 40 degrees to the west. At noon from one of the higher ridges saw the valley of the McArthur River to the south-east; continuing our course, descended a small dry watercourse till 4.0 p.m., when we reached a large creek with a belt of casuarina, melaleuca and eucalypti along its banks. The channel was dry and sandy, about twenty yards wide, but showed the marks of high floods. Following the creek down for three-quarters of an hour found a small pool just sufficient for the supply of the party. Just below our camp a creek fifteen yards wide joined the principal one from the south, and, from the general lay of the country, it was evident that we were now on the McArthur River of Leichhardt; but though from the steepness of the banks the floods frequently rise thirty to forty feet, the creek did not bear the character of one which would take its rise at any great distance inland of our track. The country passed over was very thinly wooded with eucalypti of small growth, seldom more than one and a half feet in diameter and fifty feet high; a few leguminous ironbark, and sterculia were scattered on the hills, with much triodia and little grass. After crossing the highest ridge at 11.0 a.m. the sandstone strata were variously inclined, but generally to the west or north-east at high angles, except on the immediate bank of the McArthur, where the sandstones were horizontal. To the south-west of our route the country rose into stony hills of very barren aspect, but to the north the country appeared to be wooded.

Latitude by Vega 16 degrees 25 minutes 11 seconds.

5th August.

The country to the south-east being very rocky and broken, we followed down the river, leaving the camp at 7.20 a.m., the general course north-east; the sandstone hills rose abruptly from the bank of the river, the sandstone rock being frequently worn away in a partial manner, so as to leave isolated columns sometimes three feet in diameter and thirty feet high; a few miles below the camp a few pools of water were seen, but there was no grass near them, and we continued our route for four hours, and camped at a shallow pool with a small patch of grass on the bank of the river; the principal channel of the river was only twenty-three yards wide, but in times of flood the side channels carry off the greater portion of the water, which rises nearly forty feet; considerable quantities of mussel-shells lay at the old camps of the blacks along the bank of the river.

Latitude by meridian altitude of the sun 16 degrees 18 minutes 41 seconds; longitude by lunar distances 136 degrees 21 minutes.

6th August.

At 7.25 a.m. resumed our journey on a south-east course, over a miserable sandy country, with stunted eucalypti, grevillia, and triodia; at 11.0 reached a range of broken sandstone hills, which, with great difficulty and risk to the horses, we crossed in an east-south-east direction; but though the direct distance was only three miles, the deep ravines and rocks delayed us for three hours, and we were glad to emerge into an open valley, in which we camped at 2.30 p.m.; in the deep ravines of the sandstone hills water was abundant, but inaccessible for our horses, from the steep and rocky character of the country; a few small white-gum trees and triodia formed almost the entire vegetation; the rock is gray sandstone in horizontal beds with cleavage lamina, which varied so much in angle and direction that no general direction could be assigned, the cleavage of the upper beds often being the reverse of those immediately below them; the beds were from one to four feet thick, and the lamina half an inch to two inches, the grain very even and moderately fine.

Latitude by Vega 16 degrees 24 minutes 20 seconds.

7th August.

Resumed our journey at 7.10 a.m. on an average east-south-east course, along the foot of a rocky range of sandstone hills; at 8.30 came on a deep rocky creek, with long pools of water trending to the north; as our horses required rest, and the country ahead appeared very barren and rocky, we encamped.

8th August.

Steering a south-east course from 6.50 a.m., crossed a sandy tableland, with paper-bark and melaleuca with broad leaves; passed a small creek with pools trending north-east, and at 10.0 a low rocky ridge; then descended into a wide valley, with melaleuca and a few box-trees. At 1.25 camped on a large sandy creek with two channels ten yards wide, with low sandy banks; one channel was dry, but the other had a few small pools in it; a line of melaleuca and flooded-gum trees marked its course along the valley. When in flood the waters of the creek are 100 yards wide and ten to fifteen feet deep. The grass was inferior, but from having been burnt had grown up fresh and green.

Latitude by a Trianguli Australis 16 degrees 34 minutes 44 seconds.


9th August.

Starting at 6.40 a.m., traversed an undulating sandstone country on a south-east course till 1.15 p.m., when we came on a large dry sandy creek, which we followed to the north-north-east till 1.50, when we found a shallow pool, at which we encamped. This creek had a sandy channel ten yards wide, with low banks, subject to flood to the breadth of fifty to eighty yards. Pandanus, melaleuca, and flooded-gum grow on its banks. The country generally is poor and stony, with paper-bark, gum, bloodwood, and narrow-leafed melaleuca. Shortly after reaching the creek the horse Monkey knocked up, though only carrying a pack-saddle since the 30th July; I therefore left the saddle, having removed all such portion of the fittings which might hereafter be useful. A few yards from our camp we found some spears and water vessels, which had been hidden under some sheets of bark by the blacks, who evidently were out hunting, as we heard them calling to each other in the afternoon, though they were not seen. These water vessels were formed by hollowing out a block of wood in the shape of a canoe, and had a capacity of three gallons, and it was evident that they possess tools of iron as also of stone.

Latitude by a Trianguli Australis 16 degrees 42 minutes 50 seconds; longitude by lunar distances 136 degrees 28 minutes.

10th August.

As there was a sufficient supply of grass and water, remained at the camp to rest the party. The morning was cloudy, but cleared up about 9 a.m., and I observed a set of lunar distances. Dean brought in some jasper from a hill one mile north-west of the camp. He also reported that the creek appeared to trend to the north for eight or ten miles.

11th August.

We continued a south-east route at 7.40 a.m., ascending hills of limestone and sandstone, with an upper bed of basalt, which on the higher land to the south-west was again covered by sandstone. The trap or basalt was much decomposed, and contained fragments of lower rocks. At 1.40 p.m. camped on a fine but small creek, with permanent pools of water in a rocky channel from five to thirty yards wide. The country was well grassed and openly wooded with box, sterculia, leguminous ironbark, and terminalia.

Latitude by a Trianguli Australis 16 degrees 51 minutes 55 seconds.

12th August.

At 6.50 a.m. resumed a south-east course, traversing a broken country with limestone, chert, sandstone, and trap hills, deeply cut by dry watercourses. The grass was abundant and good, though triodia appeared on the higher ridges; at 7.0 crossed a small river, with fine permanent pools of water in a rocky bed ten to thirty yards wide. The floods rise twenty feet, and extend over a breadth of 70 to 100 yards. It is the largest stream-bed crossed since leaving the river, and may possibly drain the country to a distance of sixty miles to the southward. At 1.25 camped on a small creek trending to the north-north-east, in which were pools twenty yards long and five feet deep.

Latitude by a Trianguli Australis 17 degrees 1 minute 31 seconds.


13th August.

Left the camp at 7.0 a.m. and continued a south-easterly course, crossing a succession of sandy valleys and broken sandstone hills; the strata horizontal, and lamina dipping to the north and east generally, but sometimes in the opposite direction; the soil poor and sandy, producing little besides white-gum and triodia. At noon ascended a high ridge, from which we saw a broad valley to the south-east, beyond which was a range of flat-topped hills terminating abruptly at the northern end, which bore east by north. Descending by a rocky ravine, at 1.30 p.m. reached a fine creek, on which we camped. This creek had deep pools of water fifty yards wide; but the steep rocky character of its banks caused the channel to appear larger than if it had been in a more level country. Under some large rocks Dean found a fishing-net made neatly of twisted bark, the mesh one and a half inch, the length perhaps thirty feet; some fishing spears showed the marks of iron tools. The rocks in this part of the country often contain angular fragments of the lower strata; thus the limestone includes fragments of chert and jasper, and the sandstone pieces of limestone, but I could not detect either granite, quartz, or slate.

Latitude by a Trianguli Australis 17 degrees 11 minutes 1 second.

14th August.

At 6.20 a.m. we were again in the saddle, and steered south-east across very rocky hills till 8.0, when we entered a fine valley with low hills of limestone and trap, well grassed and thinly wooded with box-trees and acacia; at 10.0 ascended a rough sandstone range with white-gum, acacia, and triodia; at 11.0 again descended into a valley bounded by sandstone cliffs on the northern side, and camped at a fine pool of water in a small creek at 12.5. Several trees near this pool of water had been marked by the blacks, the bark having been removed, the wood was painted yellow with brown spots at regular intervals, and vertical waved lines in black. It is evident from the outline of the hills that we are travelling on the edge of the tableland of Northern Australia, and this accounts for the small size of the watercourses, while the abrupt and broken nature of the hills has caused the rocks to form channels of sufficient size to retain water throughout the year, while the same disruption of the strata has exposed the limestone and trap-rock, has caused fertile patches of country, and thus enabled us to traverse a country which is otherwise barren and inhospitable in the extreme, our chief difficulty being the rocky character of the country, which can only be traversed with well-shod horses. It is possible that some small tracts of available country may exist between our track and the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria, but to the south there is little to expect besides a barren sandy desert, as on every occasion that the tableland has been ascended, nothing but sandy worthless country has been encountered.

Latitude by Vega 17 degrees 17 minutes 56 seconds.


15th August.

Resumed our journey at 6.35 a.m., and followed a large creek up to the south-east, and at 7.45 crossed it below a fine pool of water, above which the creek came from the south-west, in which direction the country consisted of low sandstone hills of barren aspect. We then crossed a few miles of sandy tableland and descended at 10.20 into a deep valley trending east. This brought us to a small creek with good water, on which we encamped at 11.30. The country is very poor and rocky, thinly wooded with box-trees in valleys and white-gum on the hills, where the grass is replaced by triodia. Kangaroos are more numerous than in any other part of Australia yet visited by the Expedition, and as many as twelve or fifteen have been seen each day. Early in the morning a light breeze from west; at 7.0 a fresh breeze from south-east which lasted till 4 p.m., and at sunset a light air from west.

Latitude by Vega 17 degrees 23 minutes 26 seconds.

16th August.

At 6.30 a.m. steered south-east and followed the valley of the creek till 8.0, when it turned to the north-east; continuing our course along the valley south-east, though there was now no watercourse in it, at 11.20 came on a creek in a trap valley trending north-east, across the larger valley, and crossing a ridge of sandstone and basalt, came on a large creek trending north, in which were long pools of water fifteen to twenty yards wide. Following this creek upwards to the south-south-east, as the valley widened the water ceased for some distance, but at 12.40 p.m. came on a pool supplied by a spring at the upper end. Here we encamped, as there was some good grass. The rock which formed the hills on this day's journey is a hard red-brown sandstone, the lower part thin-bedded, beneath which trap or basalt has been forced between the strata, and was exposed in the deep valleys excavated by the creeks. The view at times extended twenty miles to the north-east over a level depressed country, beyond which were low ridges of hills. The country generally was poor and stony, thinly wooded with eucalypti and acacia, except when the basalt was exposed, and by its decomposition formed a richer soil, well covered with grass and very open in character.

17th August (Sunday).

Grass and water being sufficient, remained at the camp to rest the horses, though, as several had to be shod, it was not altogether a day of rest to the party. A fresh breeze from south-east cooled the air at noon, but died away towards sunset.

Latitude by Vega 17 degrees 32 minutes 11 seconds; longitude by lunar distances 135 degrees 51 minutes 15 seconds.

18th August.

Collected the horses early, but two of them appeared to be much griped from eating the coarse grass, and I therefore delayed starting till 7.40 a.m., and then ascended the stony range to the south-east and reached the tableland. The soil was sandy with acacia scrub, paper-bark gum, stringybark, and bloodwood; at 10.0 the country became stony, with white-gum, tall acacia, and triodia, and we gradually ascended till the aneroid indicated an elevation of 1100 feet, and we appeared to be on a ridge parallel to the tableland of the interior and at a greater elevation; at 1.20 p.m. observed a clump of melaleuca in a deep rocky ravine, and steered south to it. Here we found a spring with a few acres of grass around it, and encamped.

Latitude by Vega 17 degrees 40 minutes 31 seconds.


19th August.

At 6.45 a.m. steered south-east and soon ascended a rocky range of altered sandstone and trap or basalt, thinly wooded with white-gum, tall acacia, and grevillia, triodia, and treraphis superseding the grass; at 7.30 the aneroid indicated the greatest altitude (1300 feet) which we had attained since leaving the Victoria River. From this point the view was extensive to the north and south. Towards the interior the surface of the tableland, not being so elevated as our position, appeared like a vast level plain without any marked feature whatsoever. To the north the country appeared to consist of low ridges of wooded hills gradually decreasing in height as they receded. Southward our view was intercepted by broken wooded hills of equal elevation with our position, while deep ravines trending to the south intercepted our route. I therefore altered the course to 200 degrees magnetic, and descended a rocky valley in which was a small watercourse which enlarged into a considerable creek with large rocky waterholes. The hills consisted of basalt and altered sandstone, which dipped 20 degrees to 60 degrees to the north-west, and by their outcrop formed parallel ridges which we passed with difficulty and great risk to our horses; at 12.30 p.m. we extricated ourselves from these ridges and entered a level valley extending thirty miles to the north-east and south-west. Here granite rock was exposed on the bank of the creek, which now trended across the valley to the south-east, with a broad sandy bed from a quarter to half a mile in width, but quite dry and overgrown with bushes; at 4.5 reached the hills which bounded the valley to the south-east, and the creek entering a deep gorge which, by concentrating its waters, had formed a fine pool, at which we encamped. The country after leaving the basalt hills, where the valleys were well grassed, was barren and useless sand, gravel, and rock.

Latitude by Vega 17 degrees 53 minutes 42 seconds.

20th August.

We left our camp at 7.0 a.m., and finding the valley of the creek impassable, crossed the hills in an east-south-east direction, the country consisting of steep sandstone ridges covered with triodia and a few stunted eucalypti; at 3.0 p.m. we again attained the bank of the creek and camped in a small patch of coarse rushes, as there was no grass for the horses.

Latitude by Vega 17 degrees 58 minutes 7 seconds.

21st August.

Leaving this miserable spot with our starving horses, followed the creek, which had now increased to a small river, to the east-south-east, and after two hours' travelling reached a small patch of grass and camped at 8.20 a.m.; the bed of the river is nearly dry, only a few shallow pools remaining in the sandy channel, which is ten to fifty yards wide, with smaller side channels, altogether occupying a breadth of nearly 200 yards, dense clumps of melaleuca-trees growing in the intervening banks of sand; large quantities of unio-shell, some five and six inches in length, are found on the banks of the river near the camps of the blacks; Bowman complains of an attack of scurvy, which causes pains in his legs and swelling of the gums.

22nd August.

Although our yesterday's journey was only of two hours' duration, the horses appeared very weak and fatigued when we started at 6.45 am, and it was with great difficulty that Boco and Monkey could keep up with the rest of the horses; we were frequently compelled to leave the bank of the river and cross steep rocky ridges of sandstone rock; the country was very rugged and barren, producing little besides triodia and a few stunted gum-trees. The bed of the river increased to 400 yards in width, consisting of sandy channels with narrow banks of sand covered with large melaleuca-trees between them. At 1.5 p.m. camped in a small patch of dry wiry grass; procuring water from a small pool in the bed of the river.

Latitude by Vega 17 degrees 59 minutes 2 seconds.


23rd August.

Resumed our journey at 7.15 a.m., following the right bank of the river to the east-north-east; it soon passed between two steep rocky hills and turned to the north. Continuing our course a short distance, rocky hills compelled us to turn north-north-east to regain the banks of the river, following an ana-branch till 11.0 a.m., when it joined the main channel, which then trended north-east; at 11.30 came to a small grassy flat, along the banks of the river, and camped. The valley of the river is now more open, but the country of very barren character, with stunted eucalypti and triodia on the hills, and melaleuca and flooded-gum trees, with a little grass, on the bank of the river. The hills have decreased in height, the upper strata thick-bedded coarse sandstone with sandstone shale beneath; hard white sandstone exists in some of the lower ridges.

Latitude by Vega 17 degrees 56 minutes 37 seconds; longitude by lunar distances 138 degrees 22 minutes 7 seconds.

24th August (Sunday).

Although this was not a good spot for a day's halt, yet it was requisite the horses should have a day's rest, and, as it was Sunday, remained at the camp. While collecting the horses a native woman and child were seen at a distance, in the bed of the river; but on being approached hid themselves in the reeds, and though the grass was set on fire in several places by the blacks, they were not seen again.

25th August.

Resumed our journey down the river at 8.5 a.m., the general course being east; at 2.35 p.m. camped at a nymphae pool in one of the side channels of the river. The country was now more level and open, with grassy flats along the river, but the back country rose into low rocky sandstone hills, thinly clothed with white-gum and triodia. At noon we crossed a sandstone ridge, from which the view was extensive, but, except on a range of hills fifteen miles north of our position and terminating abruptly on a north-east bearing, there was nothing visible but low and flat wooded country. The bed of the river is a quarter of a mile wide, consisting of broad sandy channels with low sandy ridges between covered with melaleuca and acacia trees. Some of the party walked down the river and came to the camp of some blacks; but only one lame old man remained, who made a great noise to frighten away the invaders of his country.

Latitude by a Aquilae 17 degrees 54 minutes 18 seconds.

26th August.

Followed down the river from 6.45 a.m. till 1.40 p.m., the general course being east. The country is now more level, and ironstone conglomerate forms low steep banks to the river, the bed of which is unchanged, being broad dry sandy channels. The back country shows no improvement, and is covered with triodia. Some blacks were seen on the left bank of the river, but though within hearing of our horses' bells, did not appear to notice us.

Latitude by z and a Aquilae 17 degrees 54 minutes 10 seconds.

27th August.

The course of the river continued nearly east, and we followed its right bank from 7.30 a.m. till 1.5 p.m., when we camped at a fine pool of water in one of the side channels, the main channel continuing dry and sandy. The country on the immediate bank of the river was openly wooded with box, flooded-gum, leguminous ironbark, and melia, and was scantily grassed; the soil a brown sandy loam. Beyond the influence of the floods the ground was quite level; small terminalia, broad-leafed melaleuca, and silver-leafed ironbark, with dry triodia, formed the entire vegetation of this worthless plain. Ironstone conglomerate and sandstone boulders are the only rocks visible.

Latitude by Vega 17 degrees 56 minutes 32 seconds.


28th August.

Our day's journey commenced at 7.0 a.m., and following the right bank of the river to the east-south-east till 12.45 p.m., encamped in the bed of the river, which was nearly half a mile wide from bank to bank, the principal channel, eighty yards wide, was shallow and sandy, with a few small pools of water at intervals. The side channels of similar character, but smaller and without water. Beyond the bed the banks rose abruptly about thirty feet, and then appeared to decline as it receded, and no higher ground was visible. The soil was a sandy loam, thinly timbered with small box-trees and scanty grass.

Latitude by Vega and b Cygni 18 degrees 1 minute 3 seconds.

29th August.

At 7.20 a.m. steered east through level box flats, the country gradually becoming more open and better grassed, though very scantily; at noon crossed some open grassy plains, and altered the course to north-east, north-north-east, and north, and at 3.20 p.m. again came on the bank of the river and encamped at a small pool of water; the rest of the channel, which exceeded a quarter of a mile in width, being dry and overgrown with large melaleuca and flooded-gum trees. The general character of the country is a level plain about forty feet above the level of the river, thinly wooded with box and a few bloodwood, acacia, and bauhinia trees; the soil a brown loam, and the grass, though scanty, of good quality, but at this season very dry.

Latitude by Vega 17 degrees 55 minutes 40 seconds.

30th August.

At 6.50 a.m. steered east-north-east through box flats and open grassy flats, the course of the river nearly parallel to our route; at 10.10 came to a large tributary creek from the south. Its principal channel was 30 yards wide, with pools separated by dry banks, but two small side channels existed with small running stream. After half an hour's delay, we succeeded in crossing without further accident than resulted from some of the pack-horses falling down the bank into the water and wetting their packs, and getting a ducking myself, which wetted the chronometers. Water-pandanus, fan-palm, and casuarina formed a belt of trees along the bank of the stream, which bore quite a different character to that of the dry sandy bed of the river above the junction. Continuing our route, at 12.5 p.m. came to a second running creek, but of smaller size. This we crossed and followed down to the east till 1.5, when we encamped. Here we observed that, though the water was fresh, yet it was affected by the tide, which was now at the highest spring.

Latitude by Vega 17 degrees 52 minutes 35 seconds.


31st August (Sunday).

Rode down the creek with Mr. H. Gregory. At two miles from the camp came to the junction of a smaller creek from the south, the two forming a fine reach of water, which we recognised as the Albert River of Captain Stokes. This spot between the two creeks was the rendezvous appointed for the two sections of the Expedition, and though, from the short period which had elapsed since leaving the Victoria, the Tom Tough could scarcely be expected to have arrived before us, on approaching the spot we saw several marked trees:

CHUMLUT + arrow pointing up ORE RCH TO 1856,

but were disappointed in our hope that the vessel had reached the Albert, as these marks consisted of several names of seamen, who appeared to have formed the crew of a boat sent up the river by H.M. steamer Torch. Search was made for directions for finding any memorandum which might have been concealed, as I first thought it probable that the object of the visit might have been to communicate with the Expedition; but the nature of the inscriptions and the absence of anything which led to even a surmise of what was the object of the visit caused us to come to the conclusion that it had no reference to the North Australian Expedition. From the state of the ashes of the fire and branches of the trees which had been cut and broken, it appeared that several weeks had elapsed, and consequently the Torch was not likely to still be in or near the river. In accordance with arrangements made with Mr. Baines, I marked a tree thus:


in order to apprise him of our having reached the Albert, and of our prospective movements. Returning to the camp, wrote a memorandum of the visit of the Expedition and a note to Mr. Baines, informing him that we intended leaving other marks and memoranda at the junction of the salt-water arm of the river, and then continue without delay our route towards Moreton Bay. These memoranda were enclosed in a powder-canister, and Messrs. Elsey and Bowman took them down to the marked tree and buried them. In the afternoon rode over with Mr. H. Gregory towards the Nicholson River, crossing Beame's Brook. Steered north-north-east four and a half miles over a level grassy plain with stripes of box-trees. As we could see four or five miles farther, and no indication of the river, returned to the camp, having ascertained that the Nicholson River does not join the Albert, unless many miles below the junction of Beame's Brook with the South Creek, which together form the Albert River.

1st September.

At 7.40 a.m. steered east to the South Creek, which we found at the distance of two miles, and followed it up for an hour in search of a crossing place, as the channel was very muddy. A suitable spot having been found, we filled up the channel, which was two yards wide, with pandanus stems, and crossed the horses over without accident. Steering east-north-east two miles across wide level plains, with patches of box-trees, turned north at noon and struck the Albert just below the junction of the South Creek and Beame's Brook. Finding the water brackish, we did not proceed farther down the river, and encamped. The existence of a narrow belt of mangrove along the bank of the river indicates that the water is often salt to the head of the Albert.

Latitude by Vega 17 degrees 51 minutes 55 seconds.

2nd September.

The water in the river being very brackish, it became evident that we should be unable to procure fresh water if we followed it towards the sea, and therefore I decided on leaving the letters I had written to Mr. Baines at this spot, and accordingly marked a tree thus:


and buried a tin canister with letters, stating that the exploring party was to start the following morning for Moreton Bay, and instructing Mr. Baines to remain at the Albert till the 29th September, 1856, in case any unforeseen circumstance should compel the party to return to the Albert within that period. Five months' flour, tea, sugar, etc., and three months' supply of meat at full ration still remained; and as our horses would supply the deficiency of meat, if required, we have sufficient quantity of provisions to enable the party to reach the settled part of New South Wales, unless extraordinary difficulties should be encountered; under the circumstances it did not appear prudent to delay at the Albert River, as the arrival of the Tom Tough might be deferred for an indefinite period.

3rd September.

Left our camp at 6.45 a.m., and steered east over level box-flats and open grassy plains; at 10.0 came on a small creek, which we followed half an hour to the north-east, when we came to salt-water, which had been left in pools at high tides. I therefore steered south-east till 5.0 p.m. and camped at a shallow pool in a large creek trending north. The country consists of vast open level plains, separated by narrow belts of box and terminalia trees; the soil a brown clay loam, producing rather short and dry grass. On approaching the waterhole at which we encamped, a black and three or four women were found camped on the opposite side of the creek; they climbed the trees and remained among the branches till dusk, when they descended to their fires and made a great noise till 9.0, when they decamped. This creek is probably the head of the salt-water arm of the Albert River or of the Disaster River.

Latitude by Vega 18 degrees 2 minutes 5 seconds; variation of compass 4 degrees east.


4th September.

Continued a south-east course through large open plains thinly grassed; passed a dry watercourse with a small waterhole in one of the back channels, but insufficient for our horses, and at noon camped at a shallow waterhole in a grassy flat. Mr. Elsey walked half a mile to the eastward; came to a river eighty yards wide, but observing some blacks, returned to the camp. In the evening nine blacks came towards us, and appeared inclined to hostilities; but, after a short interview, retired up the creek. These blacks were not circumcised, and their teeth were perfect; they had neither ornaments or any description of clothing, and were slightly scarred on the back and chest. Their spears were large and heavy, made of a single piece of wood, and thrown by hand; they had also smaller ones of reed, with wooden points, which were thrown with the throwing board, which were flattened vertically; clubs two and a half feet long and two and a half inches in diameter, and shields formed of a single piece of wood two and a half feet long and three inches wide. The river proved to be fresh, and in pools separated by rock flats, and is evidently the same that Dr. Leichhardt supposed to be the Albert—a mistake which has caused considerable error in the maps of his route; as it was not named, I called it the Leichhardt. The character of the country is inferior, as the grass which covers the plains is principally aristidia and andropogon; anthisteria or kangaroo grass only in small patches. The soil is a good brown loam.

Latitude by Vega 18 degrees 11 minutes 50 seconds.


5th September.

At daybreak we heard the blacks making a great noise up the river, and while the horses were being brought in nineteen blacks came to the camp, all armed with clubs and spears. They did not make any hostile demonstration, and the approach of the horses appeared to keep them in check; and a person unacquainted with the treacherous character of the Australian might have thought them friendly. When we started at 6.50 a.m. they followed the party to the bank of the river, and began to ship their spears, and when we were crossing a deep ravine made a rush on us with their spears poised ready to throw them at us, hoping to take advantage of our position; but just as their leader was in the act of throwing his spear he received a charge of small shot. This checked them, and we charged them on horseback, and with a few shots from our revolvers put them to flight, except one man, who climbed a tree, where we left him, as our object was only to procure our own safety, and that with as little injury to the blacks as possible. We did not pursue our advantage; by following the fugitives. Proceeding down the river a short distance, at 7.40 crossed to the right bank on a ledge of flat rocks. It was here about 100 yards wide, with shallow reaches of water, the banks rising steep—thirty to forty feet. Very little vegetation grew on the banks, which appeared to result from salt water occasionally reaching this part at very high tides. We now steered east over level grassy plains, with patches of box and terminalia. Passed a small but deep waterhole, near which were two black gins, who did not appear to notice us. At 10.0 the country was covered with an open scrub of terminalia, with silvery leaves, and triodia replaced the grass. At noon passed a small rocky gully with a waterhole, which our horses quite emptied of its contents. Altering the course to north-east, the country was covered with melaleuca scrub, with silver-leafed ironbark, triodia, and a little grass; but we soon re-entered the open plains which extended to the north, and, following a watercourse at 3.5 p.m. camped at a small muddy waterhole, on the banks of which the blacks had often encamped, as shown by the heaps of mussel-shells round their fireplaces. Our route has been along the southern limit of the open grassy plains, and to the south the country rises into low ridges and stony plains, covered with scrub and triodia.

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