Latitude by Vega 18 degrees 7 minutes 45 seconds.
Starting at 6.25 a.m. our route was average east over a level country of very bad quality; the soil ironstone gravel, producing terminalia, triodia, and silk cotton-trees (Cochospermum gregoranum). Towards the latter part of the stage the country improved, becoming more open and grassy. At 12.15 camped on a large creek with a shallow pool of muddy water.
Latitude by Vega 18 degrees 9 minutes 45 seconds.
7th September (Sunday).
Remained at the camp to rest the party. A strong south-east wind blew during the night, and the day was cool and clear; the air very dry. Repaired our saddle-bags, which, from frequent contact with rocks and dead trees, were much dilapidated.
Steered east-south-east from 6.40 am to 11.40, crossing low ironstone ridges and wide grassy plains, with belts of box, terminalia, white-gum, and silver-leafed ironbark of small size; the grass very inferior, with patches of triodia on the ridges; then traversed a level country covered with small trees and dry grass for two hours, after which we followed a dry watercourse, with large hollows in its bed, to the north-north-west for one hour; the shells of large unios abundant, but no water; altered the course to the east; passed two lines of box-trees crossing the plain from the south to the north, and at 5.50 p.m. camped in the plain without water; a strong breeze from the south-east during the day had rendered the heat less oppressive than usual.
Latitude by Vega 18 degrees 12 minutes 40 seconds; variation of compass 5 degrees east.
THE FLINDERS RIVER.
Left our waterless camp at 6.10 a.m., steering north 50 degrees east magnetic over a level grassy plain; at 9.40 reached a fine river of fresh water 100 yards wide, but very shallow; pelicans, ducks, and other water-fowl were numerous, but very shy and wild; here we camped, although the grass was very inferior on the immediate banks of the river, the surface of the soil being very much furrowed by the rain; small fragments of limestone and a few quartz pebbles have been observed on the surface of the plain for the past twenty miles, and a dark limestone rock is exposed in the bed of the river, where it has horizontal stratification; fragments of flinty slate and trap exist in the gravel of the bed of the river, which, from its position, must be the Flinders River of the charts.
Latitude by a Aquilae 18 degrees 8 minutes 41 seconds; variation of compass 4 degrees 20 minutes east.
6.10 a.m. again found us in the saddle, and crossing the right bank followed it to the south-south-east till 7.20, when it turned to the south-south-west, and changing our course to the east, passed through a fine grassy plain for two miles, and entered a level open box-flat, well grassed, the soil a brown loam; this continued till 2.30 p.m., when we entered a belt of terminalia, and at 1.0 reached a small watercourse, and camped at a fine waterhole fifty yards wide and 100 yards long, apparently deep and permanent water, with open grassy banks; this waterhole would render a great extent of the fine grassy country around available for pasturage; in passing through the box forest we observed several sleeping places which had been constructed by the blacks during the wet season; they consisted of four stakes two feet high, supporting a platform of small sticks five feet long and two and a half feet wide; three to twenty of these frames would be grouped together, and were frequent till we reached the Gilbert River.
Latitude by Vega 18 degrees 10 minutes 30 seconds.
At 6.20 a.m. steered east for one hour through level box and terminalia flats, with good grass and brown loam; came to a fine lagoon eighty yards wide and nearly one mile long; beyond this was a creek with small pools of water; as it appeared to come from the south-east, we steered in that direction, but soon receded from it, as its course changed to south-south-east, and altering our course more to the southward, at noon came again on the creek, much reduced in size; melaleuca scrub and triodia growing close to its banks, and only a few shallow pools of water, nearly dried up, and very little grass; at 12.25 p.m. camped at a small pool. On the banks of the lagoon passed in the morning large heaps of mussel-shells showed the spots where, from the vast accumulation, the blacks had for many centuries camped successively on the same spots, and a well-beaten footpath along the bank showed that it was a favourite resort of the aboriginals. The common flies are very troublesome; very few birds, and no kangaroos have been seen during the last few days' journey.
Latitude by Vega 18 degrees 18 minutes 5 seconds.
The course of the creek being from the south and water very scarce in its bed, it does not appear that we have yet reached the streams rising in the high land at the head of the Burdekin and Lynd rivers; it therefore appeared expedient to steer an east-north-east course till some stream-bed of sufficient size to retain water at this season can be found, and then to follow it up to the ranges where alone water can be expected to be found to enable us to steer to the south-east. At an earlier season of the year, when water is abundant, it would be more desirable to ascend the Flinders, and cross from its upper branches to the head of the Clark; but under present circumstances this course would be highly imprudent, and no experimental deviations from the most direct course would be justifiable. The grass being scanty, the horses had scattered much, and we did not leave the camp till 10.20 a.m., when we steered east-north-east. A short mile from our camp passed four blacks at a pool of water; they did not observe us till we had passed, though only 100 yards distant, and the country very open. Our route was through a level country, wooded with box, bloodwood, terminalia, grevillia, and broad-leafed melaleuca, triodia, and patches of grass. The soil is a hard ironstone gravel and clay. Passing several dry beds of shallow lagoons, came to a small dry watercourse coming from the east; at 12.20 p.m. camped at a shallow pool of water scarcely four inches deep. Near the camp were some fine grassy flats, but limited in extent, and the grass very dry. The cool southerly breezes have ceased, and the north-east and westerly winds are light and very warm.
Latitude by Vega 18 degrees 14 minutes 25 seconds.
At 8.5 a.m. steered east-north-east through box-flats with broad-leafed melaleuca, with a little grass. The country gradually became more scrubby with grevillia, terminalia, bloodwood, and triodia; the soil very poor, and in some parts sand and gravel. At 2.0 p.m. altered the course to north, and at 5.50 came to a dry creek in a rocky channel trending west, which we followed down till 6.15, and camped without water.
14th September (Sunday).
At 5.50 proceeded down the creek on a nearly west course, searching the channel in its winding course for water, but without success, till 10.0, when we found a pool of good water fifty yards long and two feet deep, at which we encamped. Some blacks had been camped at this pool, and their fires were still burning. The country on the creek is very poor, with patches of open melaleuca scrub, box, bloodwood, leguminous ironbark, terminalia, white-gum, and a few pandanus, triodia, and a little very dry grass. The soil sandstone, with ironstone gravel. The native bee appears to be very numerous, and great numbers of trees have been cut by the blacks to obtain the honey.
Latitude by a Aquilae 17 degrees 59 minutes 26 seconds.
LEVEL COUNTRY. SCARCITY OF WATER.
At 8.15 a.m. resumed our journey north 10 degrees magnetic, over a very level country thinly wooded with box, bloodwood, melaleuca, terminalia, grevillia, and cotton-trees, also a small tree which we recognised as Leichhardt's little bread-tree, the fruit of which, when ripe, is mealy and acid, but made some of the party, who ate it, sick. Several dry watercourses trending west were crossed, and at 2.5 p.m. camped at a small waterhole in a sandy creek, fifteen yards wide. By enlarging the hole we obtained, though with difficulty, a sufficient supply of water for our horses. On the flats near the creek the grass was good, but very dry.
Latitude by a Aquilae 17 degrees 46 minutes 11 seconds.
Although our horses required a day's rest, none of our camps for some days had afforded a sufficient supply of water and grass for a second night; we therefore continued a north 20 degrees east course at 6.25 a.m.; at 7.30 a.m. came to a creek which we followed east an hour and a half, when it was reduced to a small gully, and again steered north-north-east, passing over much poor country with patches of melaleuca scrub, the country perfectly level; at 2.0 p.m. came to a sandy creek which we followed to the west till 6.5 p.m. without any water; camped in an open grassy box flat; I then walked down the creek, and was fortunate in finding a pool of water half a mile distant, and as soon as the moon rose we drove the horses to the water and filled our saddle-bags. Few parts of our journey have been through country so destitute of animal life as the level plain we have traversed since leaving the Flinders River—no kangaroo or even their track; emu tracks very rare, and very few birds were at the waterholes. Many of the sleeping-frames of the blacks have been observed, and thousands of deep impressions of their feet in the now dry and sun-baked clay show that during the rainy season the extremely level nature of the country causes it to be extensively inundated.
The supply of water and grass being sufficient, we remained at this camp to refresh the horses, which had suffered much from the long stages.
Latitude by Capella 17 degrees 34 minutes 5 seconds; variation of compass 4 degrees 50 minutes east.
Starting at 7.0 a.m., steered north 10 degrees east magnetic till 12.30 p.m., crossing a level country with frequent hollows which form lagoons in the wet season, reaching a sandy creek with several channels, which we searched in vain for water; but found a fine lagoon about a quarter of a mile from it, in a grassy flat, in which we encamped. The country generally was more open, with grassy box-flats; melaleuca scrubs less frequent. As this camp appeared suitable for a halt of a few days, I decided on availing ourselves of the opportunity, and to kill one of the unserviceable horses and replenish our stock of meat and supply the party with fresh provisions. Old Boco, who had not carried a pack since leaving the Albert, and whose wandering and kicking propensities had rendered him a troublesome animal, was therefore shot, skinned and quartered.
Latitude by a Aquilae 17 degrees 21 minutes 20 seconds; variation of compass 5 degrees 15 minutes east.
The horse was cut into thin slices and hung on ropes to dry by 10.0 a.m., the liver and heart furnishing the party with an excellent dinner.
The night had been cloudy, but the meat dried well, and promised to be fit to pack the following day, the weather being very hot with little wind. Reduced the ration of flour to three-quarters of a pound per diem while fresh meat is abundant.
Resumed our journey at 8.15 a.m. and traversed on a course north 40 degrees east a level plain grassy country thinly wooded with box, bloodwood, and terminalia, etc. The soil a dark loam of good quality, but very wet in the rainy season. At 11.30 a.m. came on a large creek or river with many sandy channels in which only a few small pools of water remained; followed it up to the east-south-east through fine open grassy flats till 2.35 p.m. and camped in the bed of the river. The banks of the river (which is probably the Gilbert of Leichhardt) are well grassed, and a dense line of melaleuca, leucodendron, flooded-gum, and morinda, mark its course through the plain; but being divided into many channels its size is difficult to ascertain. Considerable quantities of mica are mixed with the soil on its banks, which indicates that it rises in country of primary formation. Two kangaroos, some wallabies, and pink and sulphur-crested white cockatoos were seen near the river.
Latitude by a Aquilae 17 degrees 18 minutes 5 seconds.
THE GILBERT RIVER.
Leaving our camp at 7.25 a.m., steered north 120 degrees east across the plains on the left bank of the river, and at 1.30 p.m. camped at a small pool in the sandy bed of the Gilbert, which is broad, sandy, and retains very little water. Fragments of porphyry, quartz, and black slate are abundant in the drift, and mica, iserine, and minute garnets exist.
Latitude by a Aquilae 17 degrees 25 minutes 50 seconds.
At 7.5 a.m. continued our journey up the river's left bank, the average course south-east by east; at 2.50 p.m., camped at a small pool in the bed of the river; the principal channel is 200 yards wide, and the smaller ones occupy a breadth of half a mile; the banks are low, and the country quite level, thinly wooded with box-trees; the grass good, but not thick; water very scarce, except by digging in the sand of the river.
Latitude by a Cygni 17 degrees 36 minutes; variation of compass 5 degrees east.
At 7.0 a.m. steered south-east, and at 8.0 crossed to the right bank of the river, the channel 300 yards wide, with banks fifteen feet high, beyond which the ground gradually declined, so that when the river overflows a great extent of country must be inundated. Continuing our course, the river turned more to the south, and we passed through some poor stunted forest of eucalypti, alternating with grassy box-flats. At noon altered the course south-south-east, and at 12.30 p.m. camped at a chain of small lagoons in the shade of some fine nonda-trees.
Latitude by a Aquilae 17 degrees 45 minutes 10 seconds.
At 6.35 a.m. steered south-east through an open melaleuca scrub, the soil sandy loam, thinly grassed; acacia, bloodwood, silver-leafed ironbark, and grevillia forming open patches of wood at intervals. At noon turned south, and at 1.35 p.m. camped at a small lagoon nearly dry and half a mile from the bank of the river; a few hills rose close to the south-west of the river opposite our camp, the lower ridges grassy, the higher hills wooded, but not exceeding 500 feet above the plain. The bed of the river is broad, dry, and sandy, and the box-flats much reduced in width, seldom exceeding a mile. At 5.0 p.m. there was a heavy squall with rain and lightning, followed by a cloudy night and moderate breeze from the south.
At 6.45 a.m. resumed our route, and, following up the right bank of the river in a south-east direction till 2.0 p.m., when we camped in the sandy bed of the river, procuring water from a small hole in the sand. The country on the banks of the river consisted of box flats, some parts well grassed, but usually very poor; this extended about half a mile, and then changed gradually to a poor country with little grass and small eucalypti and melaleuca, the soil gravel and sand. The bed of the river continues to be about 300 yards wide, dry, and sandy; a line of melaleuca, morinda, flooded-gum and fig trees, grow along it and mark its course.
Latitude by a Aquilae 18 degrees 10 minutes 10 seconds; variation of compass 5 degrees 20 minutes east.
Steered an average south-east course up the river from 6.40 a.m. till 1.0 p.m., when we camped at some pools of water in a side channel of the river, where it was divided by a hillock of slate-rock. The country is inferior in quality, the flats narrowing to an average of half a mile with very dry and thinly scattered tufts of grass. The bed of the river is better defined, and formed at times a single channel 250 yards wide, dry and sandy, as water was only once seen during the day. Low rocky ridges of sandstone gradually approached its banks, and near the camp porphyry, slate, and coarse granite formed detached hills 50 to 100 feet high, seeming to indicate an approach to the ranges in which the stream takes its rise.
Latitude by a Cygni 18 degrees 15 minutes 21 seconds.
GRANITE, PORPHYRY, AND SLATE.
28th September (Sunday).
Walked out from the camp to a low hill about one mile south-south-east. It was composed of granite at the base and capped with horizontal strata of sandstone, some of the beds containing large water-worn pebbles, and the superstratum highly ferruginous. To the south-west of this hill the rock was slate, the strata nearly vertical; the strike north and south, but much contorted, and large pebbles of porphyry, quartz, slate, granite, sandstone, and agate formed banks in the bed of the river. The country, as seen from the hill, was generally level in appearance, but consisted of numerous low ridges and detached hills of granite, with sandstone on the summits. The valley of the river extended to the east and south, and a large branch appeared to join from the south about ten miles lower down, as a valley and some ranges of hills trended in that direction. The whole face of the country had an arid and desolate aspect, as there were no large trees except along the principal watercourses, and many of the hills appeared destitute of any other vegetation besides small acacias and scrub trees, the bare rock showing through its scanty covering.
At 7.15 a.m. again steered east up the river, the country level and timbered with stringybark, box, bloodwood, leguminous ironbark, and rusty gum; the soil a red sandy loam, thinly grassed; at 10.30 a.m. came to low hills and ridges of granite and porphyry, timbered with box, leguminous ironbark, terminalia, and the grass somewhat improved. Altered the course at 11.0 a.m. to the south to close in with the river; but after crossing a great number of dry watercourses, and even steering west, only reached the bank of the river at sunset. The channel was dry, and all the vegetation had disappeared, only a barren waste of coarse sand and gravel 180 yards wide, with bare rocky banks, showed that it had once been a running stream. A few small hollows in the rocks retained water from the late rain, but not sufficient for our horses, and though we found a small pool in the sand, it was insufficient for the supply of the party. Encamped at 6.0 p.m. The geological structure of this portion of the country is wholly dissimilar to any other part of North Australia we have yet traversed. Granite, porphyry, and slate are the prevailing rocks. The whole appear to have been subjected to considerable disturbance, as the slate is much broken and contorted, and in several parts altered by contact with the porphyry, and no definite strike or dip appeared to exist. The porphyry is of a red-brown colour, consisting of grey paste with crystal of felspar and angular fragments of slate and granite sometimes one foot in length. The granite contains little mica, and the quartz frequently is arranged in rhomboidal crystals nearly parallel to each other; it readily decomposes, and from the predominance of quartz forms a coarse gritty soil. Quartz-rock forms large beds and veins in the granite, and has a general trend north and south. It often contains crystals of mica, and therefore not likely to contain metals. In washing the sand of the river near Camp 83, only a small quantity of titaniferous iron remained after the removal of the quartz and mica. It was in this locality that the Gilbert Gold Field was afterwards discovered.
Latitude by e Pegasi 18 degrees 25 minutes 33 seconds.
Moved the camp about one mile higher up the river to some small pools of water, and then with Mr. H. Gregory ascended the hills to the south of the camp. From the highest ridge the course of the river was visible for nearly twenty miles, trending first seven miles south-south-west and then south-south-east; at the bend a branch appeared to join from west-south-west, in which direction the country appeared very flat for fifteen or twenty miles, as only a few distant hills were visible; from north round to south-east the country was very broken and hilly, rising highest to the north-east, but the view was limited to eight or ten miles; south-east a valley opened through hills, and more distant ranges were indistinctly seen beyond. The whole aspect of the country was barren, rock forming the principal feature. Returning to the camp, collected a quantity of the clustered figs on the bank of the creek; this fruit is rather insipid.
Steering an average south-south-east course from 7.40 a.m. till 2.40 p.m., camped on the right bank of the river, which first came from south-west and then from south-east, throwing off two branches to the south-west, and was thereby diminished to 100 yards wide at our camp; only one creek and some gullies joined from the east, although the country in that direction was hilly; the bed of the river was still dry and sandy; water very scarce. Slate, quartz, schist, granite, and trap are the principal rocks, and by their decomposition do not produce a soil favourable to vegetation, the country becoming more desolate as we advanced. The only trees which retain their verdure are those which grow on the banks of the river.
Latitude by a Cygni 18 degrees 40 minutes 29 seconds.
RECONNOITRE TO THE EASTWARD.
The river above the camp coming from the south-south-west, it appeared desirable to pursue a more eastern course, and I therefore started from the camp at 6.30 a.m., accompanied by Mr. H. Gregory, to reconnoitre the country, steering east three miles over low slate hills (the strata dipping 60 degrees to 80 degrees to south by west); ascended a hill from which a range of hills were seen eight to ten miles to the east of a creek rising in them and joining the river near the camp to the east-south-east; at the head of the creek a gap in the hills showed a more distant range of hills; steering in this direction, came to the creek with a sandy and rocky bed ten yards wide and perfectly dry; ascending the range of hills, found them to consist of gneiss, schist, and slate, trap existing on the lower ridges. A large valley extended across our course to the east, beyond which a range of flat-topped hills or tableland bounded the horizon. Descending to the east the country improved and granite constituted the principal rock, ironbark and a few box-trees forming an open forest which on some of the ridges was well grassed; the soil a red loam. At 2.0 p.m. came on a small river with a dry sandy bed eighty yards wide; following it down to the south found a small pool of water in a hollow in the sand; here we halted till 3.30, and then followed the river south-west, south-east, south-west, west, and south; at 6.10 ascended a hill on the left hand, from which we saw that the river turned west and north-west, breaking through the hills and joining the Gilbert River. Having ascertained that we were still on a western watercourse, we bivouacked near the river without water.
At daybreak steered north-west, crossing several rocky ridges of hills, and at 2.0 p.m. reached the camp. Nothing of importance had occurred during our absence; the horses had improved by the two days' rest.
At 7.15 a.m. left the camp, and, following an average east-south-east course for seven hours, reached the pools found on the 2nd, in the upper branch of the Gilbert River, and encamped. As this route nearly coincided with that on the 2nd, nothing was seen worthy of farther notice.
Latitude by a Cygni 18 degrees 47 minutes 54 seconds.
At 6.45 a.m. left the camp and followed up the river in an east-north-east direction for three miles; water was abundant in the gullies owing to a heavy shower some days previous. Beyond three miles the water ceased and the country was dry and parched. Low hills of schist trap and granite formed a country near the river, and farther back high ranges bounded the valley; they appeared to be flat-topped and with horizontal strata of sandstone on the summits. At noon the river had divided into several small branches, and the character of the country did not promise the existence of water within the space of a day's journey; we returned down the river to the last water we had seen, and camped about three miles north-east of our last camp. As there was little prospect of finding water again till the range to the east of our present position was crossed, I decided on reconnoitring the country before moving the party farther, and as the weather promised to continue fine, the horse Monkey was shot and skinned preparatory to drying the meat during my absence.
At 6.5 a.m. left the camp with Mr. H. Gregory, steering nearly east, crossed the south branch of the river, and reached the base of the higher range at 9.30; here we found a small spring a quarter of a mile south of a remarkable hill formed of a single mass of bare rock completely honeycombed by the action of the atmosphere; ascended the range, which consisted of porphyry with horizontal sandstone on the summit; we continued our east course over rocky hills with dry watercourses trending north; the grass was very thin and dry; and the country was openly wooded with acacia, eucalypti, cypress, etc., none of which attained a large size; at 1.30 p.m. halted to rest the horses, and searching among the rocks in the gullies obtained about three quarts of water by digging; at 2.45 resumed our route, traversing a hilly country, and at 4.15 ascended a granite hill with sandstone summit, from which the view was very extensive. Large valleys seemed to join and trend from south to north, and were bounded by ranges, except to the east, where a level plain or wide valley extended to the horizon. In the valley a line of green trees five miles distant marked the course of a creek. Descending the range we encountered a very rocky country with deep gullies, in one of which we found a few gallons of water, which our horses consumed. As there was no grass here, we pushed on till dusk, and bivouacked in a small patch of grass by the side of a dry gully. The country east of the range is entirely granitic; grass very scanty, and very thinly wooded with ironbark.
CROSS A GRANITE RANGE.
Continued an east course at 5.50 a.m., and at 7.50 reached the large creek, which was 100 yards wide with shallow sandy bed; the banks low and thinly timbered with ironbark and a few box trees; the soil poor and sandy, producing little grass. Large casuarina and flooded-gum trees grew in the channel of the creek, which we followed three miles to the north-east without finding any water, and only two spots where it could be procured by digging; we therefore returned up the creek, and dug a well at the most eligible spot, procuring an abundance of good water; at 2.20 p.m. commenced our return route towards the camp, and following up the spurs of the range found a practicable route for the pack-horses; passed the highest point of the range at 6.0, and bivouacked at a small dry watercourse at 7.15 p.m.
Resumed our route at 6.0 a.m., and deviating to the north of the outward route, found a small pool of water in a rocky gully, and following it down a mile came to a pool of sufficient size to supply the whole party. At 10.30 reached Bowman's Spring at the foot of the range, and by digging in the moist soil obtained a little water. As we approached the spring a small party of blacks shouted to us from the summit of one of the hills, but did not descend to us, though we halted till 12.30 p.m., and then resumed our route, reaching the camp at 4.0, and found the party all well; the horse-meat quite dry and fit for carriage. Bowman had also replaced the shoes on all the horses. The geological character gradually changes, in consequence of the larger development of the older rocks, as we proceed to the eastward. At the camp gneiss, porphyry, and trap have superseded the slates, and proceeding east, granite is visible at the western base of the range. This is covered by a thick mass of porphyry, containing large fragments of slate, gneiss and granite in its lower part, and in its upper portion it has a fine grain and light colour. Being deeply cracked by vertical fissures, it forms vertical columns of rhomboidal form, resembling basalt. The summits of the higher hills are formed by horizontal beds of white sandstone, containing water-worn pebbles of quartz. Granite supersedes the other rocks as the east slope of the range is approached, and is there occasionally intercepted by veins of dark trap.
Proposed to start from the camp at the usual time, but four of the horses could not be found, and owing to the rocky nature of the country the tracks were not found till late in the evening, when tracing them some miles I found them at sunset in a secluded valley.
This morning we were more successful in collecting the horses, and started from the camp at 6.35 a.m., and steering an easterly course reached the fate of the range at 10.20 and the summit at noon. Following our previous track, reached the pool of water at 1.0 p.m. and camped. Near the camp the xanthorrhoea first made its appearance.
CROSS THE MAIN DIVIDING RANGE.
Leaving the camp at 7.0 a.m., steered an easterly course over somewhat barren granite country, timbered with cypress and ironbark; passed close to a hill on the highest point of the range, the summit of which, by approximate measurement, rose to 2500 feet above the sea. Then following a spur of the range we reached the well in the sandy creek at 1.5 p.m. Having cleared out the sand and banked it up with stakes and brushwood, a plentiful supply of water was obtained at about five feet below the surface of the dry channel.
Latitude by e Pegasi 18 degrees 45 minutes 53 seconds.
At 7.0 a.m. steered north 60 degrees east over undulating granite country, timbered with ironbark and box, the grass scanty and very dry; at 8.45 crossed a large creek coming from the south. Its channel was 100 yards wide, dry, sandy, and a few pools of shallow water; the banks ten to twenty feet high. Crossing several gullies trending northward, at noon came on a dry sandy creek, also trending to the north. On its right bank was a level flat of cellular lava or basalt. Following the course of the creek, at 1.50 p.m. camped at a fine lagoon a quarter of a mile long and seventy yards wide, the water appearing to be about ten feet deep, although unusually low at the present time. A high range of hills exist to the north of this creek, and the watercourses all trend to the north-west; and, as our latitude is the same as the Reedy Brook of Leichhardt on the south-west side of the Valley of Lagoons, it is evident that these streams do not join the Burdekin, but are tributary to the Lynd, joining it probably at the southern bend.
Latitude by b Aurigae 18 degrees 38 minutes 12 seconds.
At 6.25 a.m. steered east and traversed a slightly undulating granite country, with small watercourses trending west-south-west. Ironbark and box formed an open forest, the soil poor and gritty, with a few patches of black soil, with blocks of lava on the surface. At 11.15 ascended a small hill of lava, from which the country appeared very level to the east. To the north-east large hills rose about twelve miles distant; ranges also bounded the plain to the south, and some distant summits were visible to the south-east. Continuing an east course, lava became more frequent, and at length covered the whole surface. At 2.30 p.m. came on several streams of lava, forming ridges of rugged rocks, which were crossed with difficulty. These streams of lava appeared to have run from north to south, the thickness twenty to thirty feet, and breadth very variable. The level ground was lightly timbered with ironbark and box. At 5.25 turned to the south-east, following a small gully. Passed a small native well; but very little water in it, and the rock prevented it being enlarged. At 6.15 camped near some large rocks, in which five or six gallons of rainwater had collected. Walking down the creek one and a half miles in search of water, found two small pools of rainwater; but the darkness of the night and broken nature of the ground prevented the party moving to them.
Moved the camp to the waterholes found last night, one and a half miles down the gully. The country is here granite formation, undulating and moderately grassed, and wooded with box and ironbark. The day was cloudy, but cleared at night, and I took sights for time, latitude, and lunar distance. Chronometer 2287 would not wind up in the morning, and stopped during the day, but, having run down, wound again without difficulty.
Longitude by lunar distances 144 degrees 33 minutes 15 seconds; latitude by e Pegasi 18 degrees 41 minutes 38 seconds; variation of compass 5 degrees 50 minutes east.
Resumed our journey at 7.0 a.m., and followed the course of the creek to the south-east. The north-east side was a plain of lava, and the south-west consisted of granite ridges with sandstone on the summits. Several small creeks joined from the south-west, and increased the principal channel considerably. At 10.0 the country was more level and openly timbered with box and bloodwood; grass was abundant and green, owing to heavy rains, which appear to have been accompanied with hail, as the west-north-west sides of the trees were much bruised and the soil indented, and a great portion of the leaves torn from the trees. At 1.15 p.m. camped on a small tributary creek. The country appears to be chiefly granite and mica schist, with thin beds or streams of lava, which have come from the ranges to the north and advanced to various distances into the more level land. The surface of the lava is more thinly wooded and better grassed than the granite; but the roughness of the surface and scarcity of water rendered it less convenient travelling. From one of the higher ridges we had a wide but imperfect view of the country. The air being hazy, only a few of the marked features of the ranges to the north were visible; to the east a high hill twenty-five miles distant rose beyond an undulating wooded country. At 6.0 a heavy thunderstorm caused the creek to run for several hours.
Latitude by Capella 18 degrees 49 minutes 13 seconds.
THE BURDEKIN RIVER. A CAMP OF LEICHHARDT'S.
The rain having passed away, the morning was clear and cool, and at 6.35 a.m. resumed our journey, steering average south-east, crossing the creek several times, and at 11.0 reached the bank of the Burdekin River, which had a strong stream of water flowing in its channel, which is here about 100 yards wide, but full of casuarina and melaleuca trees; the banks steep and cut with deep gullies. Following the river to the south-east, at 2.0 p.m. camped in a large open grassy flat a mile from the river, obtaining water from a small pool filled by the rain last night.
Latitude by e Pegasi 18 degrees 57 minutes 48 seconds; variation of compass 5 degrees east.
At 6.30 a.m. resumed our journey, steering east and south for two hours over level flats; then turning east crossed a steep range of sandstone hills, the strata nearly vertical; the strike north and south; thin veins of quartz intersected the rock in every direction, forming a complete network. The steepness of the country compelled us to turn north-east to the bank of the river, which we followed to the south-east; the banks were high and cut by deep gullies. At 12.30 p.m. the hills receded, and we entered some fine flats. Here I picked up a fragment of the shoulder-bone of a bullock, and observed several trees that had been cut with iron axes; and as the latitude corresponds with that of Dr. Leichhardt's camp of the 26th April, 1845, the bone doubtless belonged to the bullock he killed at this place. At 1.5 camped on the bank of the river. The Moreton-Bay ash, poplar gum, and a rough-barked gum-tree with very green leaves, were added to the ironbark, bloodwood, and other eucalypti which constituted the forest, while casuarina and Melaleuca leucodendron grow in the beds of the larger watercourses. The channel of the river is about 150 yards, with a small stream winding along the sandy bed; much of the running water is due to the late rain, but it is evident from the character of the vegetation that it continues to run throughout the dry season.
Latitude by a Cygni 19 degrees 37 seconds.
Continued our route at 6.25 a.m., steering nearly east till 8.30, when the river turned to the north round a range of sandstone hills, crossing which, reached the river again at 10.5 flowing south, with fine openly-timbered flats on the banks; steering south till 1.0 p.m., camped on the bank of the river just below a ridge of slate rock which crossed the channel. From the hills, at 9.0, we saw a fine valley joining that of the Burdekin from the east; it was bounded by a steep range to the south, which terminated two miles from the river. South-west of our position were several flat-topped hills, which appeared to be a continuation of the range crossed yesterday. To the south only a few distant hills were visible, the view being obstructed by trees. The flats on the banks of the river are well grassed and openly timbered with ironbark, Moreton-Bay ash, bloodwood, and poplar gum; the soil varying from a soft brown loam into which our horses sank deeply, to a firm black or brown clay loam; the ranges were stony and thinly grassed; the timber box and ironbark. The geological features consist of a fine-grained sandstone interstratified with slate and coarse conglomerates. The sandstone is intersected in every direction with veins of quartz, which do not appear to enter the slate. The dip of the strata is nearly vertical, the strike north and south. The whole appear to have been much disturbed and altered; neither granite nor trap has been observed since yesterday morning. Consumed the last of the dried horse-meat, and increased the ration of flour to one pound per diem.
19th October (Sunday).
Remained at the camp to rest the party; the day was cloudy, with variable breeze from the south-east to north-east and north; no observations for latitude could be taken till early on Monday morning, and even then the altitudes were imperfect; the stream of running water in the bed of the river has increased, but is still quite clear.
Latitude by Saturn 19 degrees 7 minutes 19 seconds.
CROSS THE CLARK RIVER.
Resumed our journey at 6.40 a.m., steering south-east through fine grassy flats till 10.0, when we crossed the Clark River, and altered the course to east over well-grassed flats, to the foot of a rocky range of sandstone hills, which we reached at noon, and ascending by a steep spur, at 2.30 p.m. attained the highest ridge; here sandstone was the prevailing rock; xanthorrhoea, silver-leafed ironbark, and triodia constituted the principal vegetation; descending gradually, at 3.30 reached a small creek with a patch of good green grass on its banks, and at 3.45 halted at some small waterholes, which appeared to be permanent; except near the creek, the country was poor and stony, with a forest of ironbark and box trees; the country between the Clark and the Burdekin appears to be of excellent quality, consisting of well-grassed flats, timbered with ironbark, Moreton-Bay ash, poplar, gum, and box trees. The Clark is about 100 yards wide, with a sandy bed crossed by ridges of slate rock; the banks are sixty to eighty feet high, and the marks of last year's flood thirty to thirty-five feet, the trees being bent and broken by the force of the current; more water appears to come down the Clark during floods, but the Burdekin has a more constant stream, the Clark containing only shallow pools of water, separated by dry sand and rock; after leaving the immediate flats of the river the country was very poor and stony; the late rains had not extended so far, and the grass had the dry and parched appearance which characterised the country on the banks of the Gilbert.
Latitude by a Pegasi 19 degrees 14 minutes 2 seconds.
6.15 a.m., resumed our journey and traversed an inferior country of sandstone and porphyry; box, silver-leafed ironbark, and triodia characterized the vegetation; in crossing one of these gullies, in which were some pools of water, Bowman's horse fell over the bank into the pool, and he got some severe bruises; at 10.15 came on the river, where it ran over a ledge of rocks forming a succession of rapids, below which it spread out into a broad sheet of sand a quarter of a mile wide, and turned to the south. As Bowman had fallen some distance in the rear, I selected the first suitable spot, and at 11.0 encamped, and shortly after Mr. H. Gregory came in with Bowman to camp. On the bank of the river we saw two black gins, who climbed a tree on our approach, and in the afternoon came to the camp with an old man, and after some unintelligible conversation departed; they had neither clothes or weapons, except a throwing-stick of the same form as those used by the blacks of the southern shore of the Gulf of Carpentaria. The geological character of the country has been sandstone, much altered by contact with porphyry which has been forced through it; both dip and strike are confused, and could not be ascertained to have any general angle or direction, except in the bed of the river, where the strata dipped 10 degrees to the north, but in the hills, on the left bank below the camp, the strata was horizontal; the river is now 150 yards wide at the narrowest parts, a small stream of water, one foot deep and ten to twenty yards wide, running in a winding course through the sand, and sometimes expanding into sheets of water occupying the whole breadth of the channel.
Latitude by a Pegasi 19 degrees 16 minutes 22 seconds.
At 6.15 a.m. steered south and followed the right bank of the river; for the first hour the country was hilly on both banks, with deep gullies; it then became more level, and opened into flats, well grassed; the timber box, ironbark, and Moreton-Bay ash; the soil a light brown loam in some parts, sandy and very soft from the numerous excavations of the funnel ant. These flats extended one to two miles back and then rose into low ridges of poor land, timbered with box and ironbark; crossed a sandy creek coming from the west, and at 1.30 p.m. camped on the right bank of the river. A short distance from the camp surprised a black and his gin and a child; the man climbed a tree and the woman ran off with the child, leaving a small water vessel, hollowed out of a piece of wood, and a calabash full of water. The rocks near the last camp were sandstone or porphyry; in the only exposed section the sandstone dipped to the north 5 degrees to 15 degrees. We also crossed a hill of porphyry which was remarkable for the regularity of cleavage into thick lamina, which were vertical, with a north and south strike; but though it had the appearance of a stratified rock, its structure was perfectly crystalline. About noon, granite, containing large plates of mica, was observed in some of the gullies.
Latitude by e Pegasi 19 degrees 29 minutes 43 seconds.
At 7.0 a.m. steered south-south-east and south-east over ridges of sandstone, timbered with ironbark and thinly grassed, for an hour and a half; again struck the river and passed at the foot of some limestone hills and ridges; this limestone contained fragments of shells and coral. Altering the course to south, traversed fine open flats half a mile to a mile wide, beyond which the country rose into low ridges of limestone. At noon basalt appeared covering the limestone and sandstone. The steep slope which formed the boundary of this rock was very rugged; but the level surface was covered with black soil and well grassed. At 12.55 p.m. camped in a fine grassy flat, walled in by steep rocks of basalt. We experienced some difficulty in watering the horses, as the bank of the river was so steep that they frequently fell back into the river in ascending it. The limestone rocks seen on this day's journey appear to rise from beneath the sandstones, some of which are very hard and close-grained; it dips about 10 degrees to the west and some of the adjacent sandstones 20 degrees west, in well-defined strata. The basalt covers all the other rocks, filling up the former inequalities of the surface and forming a perfectly level plain; where the softer sandstones were in contact, they were only baked into a coarse brick-like mass, which had had much the appearance of having been formed from the alluvial banks of the river.
Latitude by e Pegasi and a Gruis 19 degrees 42 minutes 10 seconds; variation of compass 6 degrees 15 minutes east.
DUCKS, GEESE, AND PELICANS.
Leaving our camp at 6.0 a.m., steered south-south-east over well-grassed basaltic flats, timbered thinly with ironbark, etc.; the soil a red loam. At 9.0 a.m. came on a large reedy lagoon or swamp with considerable patches of shallow open water, on which were great numbers of ducks, geese, pelicans, etc. A broad and deep stream flowed from it to the south-east, varying from thirty to eighty yards in width, with a thick belt of reeds along the margin, beyond which the ground rose about fifty feet to the level surface of the basaltic plain. Following the winding of the stream till 10.35 a.m., crossed it at a ledge of basaltic rocks, when it formed a fine rapid with vertical fall of eight to ten feet. Beyond the running channel a dry sandy creek ran parallel at a distance of 80 to 100 yards from it. Our course was now between the creek and the steep rocky edge of the basaltic plain, which was too rugged for the horses to ascend till 11.20 a.m., when, crossing the basalt, we passed to the south of a shallow lake about half a mile in diameter. The country now became scrubby, with patches of grass. Altering the course more to the east, we again entered an open ironbark forest; at 2.0 p.m. crossed a large dry sandy creek, beyond which the country was poor and sandy, with pandanus growing on the ridges. On the bank of the creek we observed the marks of a recent camp of a large party of blacks, and a patch of ground twenty yards by thirty yards cleared of grass, and the surface scraped up into ridges, the whole covered with footprints, which showed that some dance or ceremony had been performed by a large number of men. At 3.30 p.m. entered a dense scrub of small crooked eucalypti and acacia, with a few sterculia. After losing an hour in attempting to penetrate the scrub, we turned north to the dry creek and followed it down till 7.0 p.m., when we camped near a pool of water; but the night was so dark that the horses could not be watered with safety, the banks being very steep and rendered slippery by a slight shower.
The grass having been burnt near the camp, the horses had strayed considerably, and we did not start till 7.30 a.m., when, turning east, we soon came on the Burdekin, which now trended to the south-south-west and south-east; the basalt coming close to the river, we were compelled to cross a very rough ridge and came on a deep pool of water eighty yards wide and half a mile long; it terminated in a dry stony channel which joined a sandy creek, and entered the river. Crossing a granite ridge, we camped in a fine grassy flat on the bank of the Burdekin, the banks being high and steep, but the water easy of access.
Latitude by a Pegasi 19 degrees 58 minutes 48 seconds.
26th October (Sunday).
Remained at the camp. During the day there was a succession of showers without thunder, the clouds and wind from the east. At 10.0 p.m. the rain ceased, but the night continued cloudy.
GOOD GRASSY COUNTRY.
The morning was cloudy, with light rain till 7.0 a.m.; at 7.30 steered east-south-east and east over fine grassy ridges of granite and trap formation, timbered with ironbark, box, Moreton-Bay ash, and bloodwood; the river taking a sweep to the north of the track, but at 10.40 came again on its banks. The course was now south till 2.15 p.m., when we crossed a large stream-bed from the south-west, with a sandy and rocky bed forty yards wide, which contained a few shallow pools of water. Below the junction of this tributary the river turned to the east and east-north-east, and we crossed low ridges of granite porphyry and trap, which came down from the high land to the bank of the river; at 3.30 encamped. The whole of the country traversed this day was well grassed, except about a mile of bauhinia scrub, which did not appear of any considerable extent. Ironbark, box, bloodwood, and Moreton-Bay ash formed the principal trees with which the country was openly timbered. The prevailing rock granite, traversed by numerous veins of dark trap, and in the latter part of the day porphyry and schist appeared; concretions of limestone were frequent near the trap veins. The soil was somewhat light and gritty loam, except on the trap-rocks, where it was rich black soil. The available country here appears more extensive than higher up the river; more rain has fallen in the early part of the season, and the grass is rich and green, especially where it had been previously burnt off.
Latitude by a Pegasi 20 degrees 7 minutes 23 seconds; variation of compass 6 degrees 20 minutes east.
We resumed our journey at 6.25 a.m., steering an east-south-east course, but after crossing some fine grassy ironbark ridges, entered a dense scrub of acacia, sterculia, bauhinia, and thorny shrubs. Turning north, with some difficulty extricated the party from the scrub, which we then skirted to the east along the bank of the river till 9.10, when the scrub receded, and fine openly-timbered ironbark ridges replaced the scrub. These ridges were well-grassed, the rocks granite, trap, and porphyry. The country generally appeared well suited for stock; on both sides of the river no high ranges were visible. At 2.45 p.m. camped on a fine grassy flat, part of which having been burnt, was now covered with excellent green grass. The day was cool, with light showers from the east. The character of the granite was fine-grained, and intersected by veins and masses of trap, and in the latter part of the day's journey porphyry was superincumbent. In the scrubs sandstone existed; it was coarse-grained, and contained worn boulders of trap, quartz, granite, slate, and hard sandstone.
As the river below turned to the east of its general course, at 6.20 a.m. steered east-south-east and south-east till 9.30, when we again came on the river trending south. The country consisted of openly-timbered and grassy ironbark ridges, but not equally good with that passed during the last two days. The river at 10.0 turned to the south-east, along the foot of some steep rocky hills of porphyry resting on granite, and at 11.45 was joined by a dry creek twenty yards wide, coming from the south-west; our course was now east-south-east, passing with difficulty between the river and a steep granite hill, beyond which the country became more sandy, and rose to the south in long gentle slopes scantily grassed, and timbered with bloodwood, ironbark, Moreton-Bay ash, and poplar gum, with a few pandanus; an immense number of deep gullies intersected the ground, cutting deeply into the granite rock beneath the soil, and rendering it difficult to traverse. A fine range of openly-wooded and grassy hills rose about two to three miles from the left bank of the river, attaining an elevation of 500 to 800 feet above the valley; these hills are probably porphyritic; they are the Porter Range of Leichhardt. At 2.45 p.m. camped on the bank of the Burdekin River.
THE SUTTOR RIVER. MOUNT MCCONNELL.
At 6.30 a.m. steered north 120 degrees east, but at 7.0 a.m. came on the river trending south, the country gradually became more rugged, and rocky hills closed in on both banks forming a deep gorge through which the river forced its way. By keeping at the back of some hills we avoided much of the rocky ground, crossing at noon a high ridge, from which the view extended to the junction of the Burdekin and Suttor Rivers, Mount McConnell bearing 159 degrees magnetic, and the west end of Porter Range 334 degrees magnetic. A long range seemed to extend south from Robey Range, and bound the valley of the Upper Burdekin, while a high range appeared to trend north-east from the eastern side of the Suttor Valley, and to turn the Burdekin to the north of east. Continuing our route nearly south-east over steep rocky ridges, we encamped in a fine grassy flat, a quarter of a mile from the Suttor River, at 1.50 p.m., Mount McConnell bearing north 172 degrees east magnetic. About 10.0 a.m. we heard some blacks calling in our rear, and soon after came in sight, but would not allow any of the party to approach them, till one of the horsemen cantering up quickly, some of the blacks climbed into trees, where, after making signs to them that it was desirable that they should pursue an opposite route to ours, we left them to descend at leisure. The country passed this day was of a broken character, with deep gullies and rocky hills near the river, but was generally well grassed and openly timbered with ironbark and Moreton-Bay ash. Granite rock forms the base of the hills, and was covered by masses of porphyry, forming hills with rocky summits of columnar structure, as at the head of the Gilbert River a dark-coloured trap changing into porphyry formed some of the lower ridges, and was largely developed on the bank of the Suttor. Thin veins of calcareous spar and quartz intersected the granite. The bed of the Burdekin where we last saw it, one mile above the junction of the Suttor, was about half a mile wide with a stream of water varying from twenty yards wide to the whole breadth of the channel, which was very level and sandy. The Suttor is but a small river compared with the Burdekin. Near the camp it formed some fine reaches of water 180 yards wide, but of no great depth. The trees on its banks were much broken and bent by a violent flood which had occurred within the year. Considering the number of miles we have travelled along the banks of the Burdekin, few impediments have been encountered, while the extent of country suited for squatting purposes is very considerable—water forming a never-failing stream throughout the whole distance.
Latitude by a Gruis and a Pegasi 20 degrees 36 minutes 20 seconds; variation of compass 70 degrees east.
THE FIRST BRIGALOW SCRUB.
A rainy night was followed by a thick fog in the morning, so that when we started at 6.30 a.m. it was with difficulty the deep gullies on the banks of the Suttor were avoided; steering south-west for one hour, crossed to the right bank of the Suttor, and then by an average south course passed to the west of Mount McConnell, which, by its isolated character and height (about 600 feet above the river) forms a very conspicuous landmark. It is wooded to the summit, and has fine patches of grass on the slopes, with cliffs of porphyry near the upper part, this being the prevailing rock; on the right bank white shaly rocks and dark trap, with veins of calcareous spar and limestone, prevailed on the left bank of the Suttor; the country on both sides well grassed and openly timbered with ironbark. The bed of the river was very irregular and sandy, with small shallow pools of water at intervals; at 11.0 the river came from the south-west, but continuing a south course we crossed some fine basaltic plains, covered with fine grass and separated by open box forest; at noon crossed a sandstone hill, the base of which was porphyry; traversing ironbark ridges for an hour, we crossed a sandy creek coming from the east, and at 1.0 p.m. encountered the first brigalow scrub; through this scrub we steered south-west till 3.40, and camped on a small dry creek with a narrow grassy flat; water was obtained from a small gully where it had lodged during a shower on the previous night. The country till we reached the brigalow scrub was well adapted for pastoral purposes; the rock trap, slate, and porphyry, with veins of limestone. The brigalow scrub grows on the detritus of a coarse conglomerate, the larger boulders of which lay scattered over the surface of the ground; these boulders consist of trap, porphyry, sandstone, and quartz, and show marks of being water-worn. A range of hills, apparently sandstone, bounds the valley to the east from three to seven miles from the river. They have no great elevation, and we did not obtain a good view of them from any point.
Latitude by Capella 20 degrees 52 minutes 25 seconds.
The horses had strayed so far into the scrub in search of grass that it was 9.40 a.m. before they were collected and saddled; we then steered south-west through the scrub, which gradually became more open, and at 11.15 we again reached the river coming from the south-south-east; it gradually turned to south and south-south-west; two creeks joined the river from the east, but neither of any importance; the brigalow scrub came close to the bank of the river, only leaving a narrow flat open; the west side of the river we could see but little, except that it consisted of wooded ridges and scrub to the east at a distance of one to three miles; rocky hills of moderate height existed, and from their flat tops and red cliffs near the summit, evidently consisted of sandstone in horizontal strata; sandstone was also exposed near the river with a dip of 30 degrees to the south; at 3.30 camped on the right bank of the Suttor, where a fine grassy plain extended about a mile back, and was covered with beautiful green grass; water was abundant, as the river had been running during the past week and had filled the hollows in the channel, though it had now ceased to flow; the bed is very irregular, and consists of three to six channels, which separate and rejoin so as to form a complete network, with occasional isolated hollows. Being free from scrub, the bed of the river was good travelling ground, large flooded-gum trees and melaleuca-trees affording an agreeable shade.
Latitude by a Pegasi 21 degrees 4 minutes 43 seconds.
2nd November (Sunday).
Grass and water being abundant, we enjoyed a day's rest. Several cockatoos were shot; they are similar in colour and form to the sulphur-crested cockatoos of the Victoria and Gulf of Carpentaria, but much larger in size.
IRON TOMAHAWKS USED BY THE NATIVES.
Leaving the camp at 6.35 a.m., followed the river in a southerly direction till 11.0, when it turned to the east, and we ascended a sandstone hill; from the summit there was a fine view of the surrounding country. To the east several distant peaks and hills were visible, the most remarkable north 86 degrees east magnetic; to the south a low range about thirty miles distant, with one large peaked hill, bounded the horizon, the intervening country being very level and apparently covered with scrub. To the west the valley was bounded by low hills of sandstone. Although ironbark ridges are frequent, the general character of the country is very scrubby, and this combined with the scarcity of water will render it unsuitable for pastoral purposes. Descending the hill, steered south-east, crossed a fine basaltic plain, and entered open brigalow scrub, and at 2.0 p.m. again came on the Suttor River, which had completely altered its character, now consisting of level grassy flats with uncertain limits and intersected by long waterholes, which were mostly dry; the general course from south-south-west; at 3.30 camped at a fine waterhole. Two miles below the camp we surprised some blacks, who decamped into the scrub. The country along the river consists of open flats, thinly grassed and interspersed with patches of saltbush (atriplex), and openly timbered with box and flooded-gum, while ironbark, box and brigalow prevail over the rest of the country. The marks of iron tomahawks are frequent where the blacks have been cutting honey or opposums out of the hollow branches of the trees.
Latitude by a Pegasi 21 degrees 22 minutes 43 seconds; variation of compass 6 degrees 50 minutes east.
Steering south-west from 7.40 a.m. till 8.5, the river turned suddenly to the south-east, and, changing our course to 170 degrees, traversed an open brigalow scrub with several shallow channels winding through it in an irregular manner. At 10.30 again came on the principal channel of the river, which was running, and very muddy from the effect of recent rains in the upper part of its course. The banks are very low, and the country so level that the floods must frequently extend more than a mile back into the scrub, which comes close to the bank on both sides. Box and flooded-gum trees grow along the larger channels, and sometimes box flats extend into the scrub. We now followed the river south-south-west, through a level country covered with dense brigalow scrub, passing only one low rocky hill, on the left bank, at 11.20. At 2.15 p.m. the river diverged to the eastward, and the course was altered to south. The country was more open, and at 3.0 encamped on one of the side channels of the river in a fine grassy box flat.
Latitude by a Pegasi 21 degrees 38 minutes 49 seconds.
Steering south-east for one mile, reached the main channel of the river, which was followed south. Crossing to the right bank at 7.20 a.m., at 9.15 a dense brigalow scrub forced us south-west, and again came to the river at 10.30. A south course was then followed till 1.0 p.m.; then south-east till 4.0; then followed the river south-south-east till 4.50, and camped on a large grassy flat. The whole of the country is very level and covered with dense brigalow scrubs, except one sandy plain, on which triodia was more abundant than grass. Having now passed the latitude of Sir T. Mitchell's last camp on the Belyando, and thus connected his route with that of Dr. Leichhardt, I considered it unnecessary to follow the river further, and decided on taking a south-easterly route to Peak Downs and the Mackenzie River.
Latitude by a Pegasi 21 degrees 57 minutes 45 seconds.
At 6.30 a.m. crossed the Belyando, and steered south through brigalow scrubs till 9.0; then entered a box and Moreton-Bay ash flat, in which was a small gully with rainwater, near which a camp of blacks was observed; but they ran into the scrub on our approach. At 9.30 changed the course to south-east towards some rocky hills, which were reached at 11.0. From this we saw several distant ranges to the westward; but the intervening twenty to forty miles was very flat. The route was now over scrubby sandstone hills for three hours, and then descended into an open flat, with box, bloodwood, and Moreton-Bay ash, triodia, and grass growing on a sandy loam. At 3.30 p.m. camped at a pool of rainwater in a small creek. In crossing the sandstone range we had a view of some high peaks twenty to thirty miles distant to the south-south-east; but to the east the country was quite level.
Latitude by a Pegasi 22 degrees 13 minutes 10 seconds.
Started at 6.5 a.m., steering south-east; the whole country appeared perfectly level with brigalow scrub and patches of open sandy country, producing triodia and a little grass; the timber Moreton-Bay ash and box. Towards noon the country was more open. At 1.30 p.m. passed a shallow pool of rainwater at the edge of a scrub. About a mile further on Melville's horse fell, and so bruised his rider that we had to return to the water and camp.
Latitude by a Pegasi 22 degrees 23 minutes 36 seconds.
The water being exhausted, the party had to move on in search of a further supply where we could halt until Melville had recovered from his injuries. Steering south-east for one hour, came to a fine creek with grassy flats and a stream of muddy water, indicating that there had been heavy rain in the ranges to the south. Having camped, we shot the filly, which was now eleven months old, cut the flesh into slices and hung it up to dry in the sun during the day and over a charcoal fire at night. The skin was cleared of hair, and was thus made into a species of gelatine, from which excellent soup was subsequently prepared. The saddlery had become much worn by passing through the scrubs, and the party was fully employed in repairs and shoeing the horses, many of which were very lame from injury among the fallen timber.
9th November (Sunday).
Melville somewhat better, but scarcely able to walk. The meat drying well.
Latitude by a Pegasi 22 degrees 26 minutes 16 seconds.
At 7.40 a.m. left the camp and followed the creek up for an hour south-south-east; then steered south-east through brigalow scrub, which gradually changed to open ironbark and box flats well grassed. At 2.0 p.m. came to broken country covered with a dense scrub of acacia and ironbark, deep gullies intersecting the country in every direction; at 3.30 ascended a ridge of mica schist, from which a high range was seen twenty miles to the south-east, but the scrub was so dense that the view was imperfect. Followed a gully, which changed from south round to north-west till 5.15, when we camped at a small pool of rainwater. There were good grassy flats along the watercourse, but the hills were covered with scrub. It is evident that we are now approaching the watershed of the Fitzroy River, and hope soon to emerge from the vast tract of scrub which occupies the valley of the Suttor River. On the plain we observed that more than half the box-trees had died within the last three years, and that they had not been killed by bush fires, as the old timber which lay on the ground was not scorched.
Latitude by a Andromedae 22 degrees 42 minutes 13 seconds.
Leaving the camp at 6.30 a.m., steered south-east over ironbark ridges of very scrubby character with open grassy valleys; the ridges increased in height, and at 11.0, having reached the most elevated summit, got a view of Peak Range about thirty miles to the north-east; to the north-west the view was obscured by wooded ranges, but from north to east-south-east the country consisted of low-wooded ridges for ten miles, beyond which fine open grassy plains extended from east-north-east to east, along the foot of Peak Range. Descending from the range, followed a small watercourse east-south-east for two hours, and then north-east, and at 2.30 p.m. encamped in a fine grassy flat with a small pool of rainwater in a gully, the larger creek being dry. The country generally consists of low ridges of schist, which, by decomposition, forms a gravelly loam, the gravel being derived from the quartz veins which intersect the schist in all directions. The forest consists of ironbark and acacia; grass everywhere abundant. Many of the horses are very lame from the splinters of dead wood in the scrub, and some have to be relieved entirely of their loads.
Latitude by a Pegasi 22 degrees 48 minutes 17 seconds; longitude by lunar distances 147 degrees 30 minutes 30 seconds.
At 7.25 a.m. steered north 110 degrees east, over grassy ironbark ridges, with small watercourses trending north; at 11.0 entered a dense brigalow scrub with a few Moreton-Bay ash-trees, the soil very poor and derived from the decomposition of a coarse conglomerate; small watercourses trending to the south. At 12.45 p.m. emerged from the scrub into open box forest, with limestone and quartz gravel, and a soft black soil producing rather dry scanty grass. At 1.45 entered a well-grassed plain with limestone ridges covered with bottle-tree scrub; the grass was good at this season, green but much mixed with salsola; the summits of Peak Range showed well above the ridges, and from the cliff around the tops seem to be capped with sandstone or more probably porphyry. There being little prospect of finding water in an easterly direction, at 4.0 altered the course to south-east; a heavy squall and thunderstorm brought some rain, but it was all immediately absorbed by the hot dry soil, at 5.0 came to a watercourse trending south, followed it till 6.30, and camped without water; about a mile north from the camp saw a small box-tree marked AB, and near it a large sheet of bark which had been cut about two years before.
Latitude by Saturn 23 degrees 18 seconds.
Resumed the journey at 6.20 a.m., steering south down the watercourse; at 7.0 saw some blacks, who, when asked by signs where water could be found, pointed down the creek and into the scrub; at 9.20 came to a pool of rainwater and camped. This part of the country is very poor and scrubby, with large Moreton-Bay ash trees, the soil formed by the decomposition of sandstone and conglomerate, with intervals of schist and trap-rock.
CROSS THE PEAK DOWNS.
At 6.50 a.m. steered south-east; we soon entered a grassy plain with ironbark ridges and belts of acacia scrub, trap, and limestone on the plains, and sandstone on the ridges; at noon passed a belt of cypress and entered extensive open downs covered with beautiful green grass. Following a shallow watercourse, passed some blacks at a distance, and at 4.20 p.m. came to a small pool of rainwater, and camped. The country to the north-east appeared level, and the grassy downs apparently extend to the foot of Peak Range. To the south-west it appeared to be a fine open country for three to eight miles, and then rose into wooded hills of moderate elevation, at the base of which a creek appeared to run to the south-east. If this part of the country were well supplied with water it would form splendid stations for the squatter; but from its level character and geological structure, permanent surface-water is very scarce, and where it does exist it is surrounded by scrubby country, which renders it almost unavailable.
THE MACKENZIE RIVER.
At 6.40 steered east-south-east and soon entered an open acacia scrub with some grassy patches; the soil a fine black loam; limestone, trap, and quartz-pebbles occurring on the surface in the open plain; at 9.0 entered a fine box flat, and passed some pools of water; the flat extending east three miles; then entered a scrubby tract of country, the soil a black mould with much salsola growing even in the thick scrub; at 11.0 came on a fine creek from the north with pools of permanent water (Crinum Creek), but the banks covered with scrub. Changing the course to south-east, at 12.20 p.m. came to a fine river with high grassy banks and several deep channels which were now full of water and running in consequence of the late rains. It had been slightly flooded this season, and the previous year had risen twenty-five feet above the present level. This river is the Mackenzie of Leichhardt. The course of the river is to the east-south-east, and we crossed to the right bank without much difficulty, the bottom being firm and the bank sandy; followed the river till 2.40, and camped. The country on the banks of the Mackenzie is scrubby, with occasional open flats; the timber box, with good grass. The little lemon-tree was in full bearing, and though the fruit is only half an inch in diameter, was excellent eating when boiled with sugar. The day was cool and cloudy, and it rained lightly for some hours during the night.
Latitude by Procyon 23 degrees 28 minutes 19 seconds.
16th November (Sunday).
Remained at the camp. The morning was cool and cloudy, but cleared towards noon, and at night got sights for latitude.
Resumed our journey at 6.40 a.m. Followed the Mackenzie south-east through level country with much scrub till 9.25 a.m., when we crossed a large creek from the south, which proved to be the Comet River of Dr. Leichhardt. The whole bed of the Comet did not exceed seventy yards, and the smaller channel only five to six yards wide, and even below its junction the Mackenzie only had a channel ten to thirty yards wide in the bottom of a bed 150 yards wide from bank to bank. Just below the junction of the Comet we found the remains of a camp of Dr. Leichhardt's party on its second journey. The ashes of the fire were still visible, and a quantity of bones of goats were scattered around. A large tree was marked thus:
DIG arrow pointing down L
but a hollow in the ground at the foot of the tree showed that whatever had been deposited had long since been removed. We, however, cleared out the loose earth, but found nothing. The river now turned east-north-east, and our course being east, we receded from it, and at noon we ascended a rocky hill of sandstone covered with scrub; we therefore steered north for an hour and came to the Mackenzie, and encamped in a fine grassy flat, but beyond the immediate flats of the river the country was covered with scrub. Near the camp a large flooded-gum tree had been marked:
Solid square [symbol ??]
some years before. The day was cloudy with easterly breeze. Marked a tree:
120 solid Delta
this being the 120th camp since starting from the Victoria River.
Rain commenced at 7.0 a.m. and continued till noon; at 6.25 steered east and soon entered a dense scrub of acacia, box, sterculia, and Moreton-Bay ash. Ascending to the level tableland by a steep sandstone slope, at 11.25 passed a gully with deep waterholes which appeared permanent, and at 1.40 p.m. encamped at a deep creek with a small pool of water. To the south-east of the camp about five miles distant a range of hills rose abruptly from the level country to a height of 800 to 1000 feet. The summits were flat and surrounded by high cliffs of red sandstone (Expedition Range).
Latitude by Procyon 23 degrees 33 minutes 40 seconds; variation of compass 7 degrees 50 minutes east.
Resumed our route at 6.30 a.m.; steered east through dense scrubs with open patches of grassy forest, the soil a light loam, very sandy in the open forest. Small watercourses trended north; at 10.0 turned to south-east to avoid a large scrubby hill which lay detached from the principal range; at 11.0 again steered east, ascending a steep sandstone hill from which the country to the north and east appeared extremely level, we then crossed a series of ironbark ridges with scrub at intervals, and fine flooded-gum and box flats in the valleys; casuarina and cypress grew on some of the ridges, but the country generally was well grassed; at 3.30 p.m. encamped at a small pool of water in a shallow watercourse trending north-east.
Latitude by Saturn 23 degrees 37 minutes 23 seconds.
At 7.40 a.m. steered east over open country, thinly timbered with box and ironbark; at 10.0 crossed a dry creek, on the banks of which were recent tracks of horses and cattle; at noon there was a heavy thunderstorm, and at the same time entered a dense scrub of brigalow and casuarina; at 2.0 p.m. the country was more open, and at 4.10 camped near a small gully with pools of rainwater; heavy rain during the night.
Continued an east course; at 6.50 a.m. crossed some wooded ridges, from which ranges of hills were imperfectly seen about twelve miles to the east; descending the ridges, entered a brigalow scrub, and at 11.40 came to the Dawson River, about eighty yards wide, with long shallow pools of water, the scrub coming close to the bank on both sides, leaving a narrow grassy flat; followed the river upwards to the southward till 2.50 p.m., and camped on the left bank of the river. The flats on the bank of the river are here much wider and well grassed, and we observed the tracks of horses.
REACH THE FIRST STATION ON THE DAWSON RIVER.
At 6.15 a.m. resumed our route up the river south-east, and at 8.0 came to a dray-track, which was followed east-north-east two miles to Messrs. Connor and Fitz' station, where we met with a most hospitable reception.
Latitude by Procyon 23 degrees 51 minutes 15 seconds.
The party having thus reached the occupied country travelled by the dray-tracks past Mr. Hay's station Rannes, on the 25th November, and thence by Rawbelle, Boondooma, Tabinga, Nanango, Collinton, Kilkoy, Durandur, and Cabulture stations, reached Brisbane on the 16th December, 1856.
1857. NEW SOUTH WALES LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY.
DR. LEICHHARDT, PROPOSED EXPEDITION IN SEARCH OF.
ORDERED BY THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY TO BE PRINTED, 28TH OCTOBER, 1857.
PROCEEDINGS OF THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL ON THE 14TH SEPTEMBER, 1857, WITH RESPECT TO AN EXPEDITION IN SEARCH OF DR. LEICHHARDT.
MINUTE NUMBER 57-44.
His Excellency the Governor-General, at the instance of the Honourable the Colonial Secretary, brings under the consideration of the Council a proposal which has been made to organise another Expedition to ascertain, if possible, beyond doubt, the fate of Dr. Leichhardt, who left Sydney some nine years ago with the intention of exploring the north-western interior of Australia. This proposal has its origin in a public meeting, held in Sydney on the 11th instant, at which resolutions were passed invoking the assistance of the Government, and it is recommended to favourable consideration at the present moment by the circumstance that Mr. Gregory, who recently returned from a successful exploration in the same direction, has intimated his willingness to undertake the conduct of the proposed Expedition.
2. The Council express themselves desirous of seizing so favourable an opportunity of pursuing this inquiry, and they therefore advise that Mr. Gregory should be at once invited to submit, for approval, a definite proposal having for its object: 1st, to ascertain the fate of the late Dr. Leichhardt; and, 2nd, to connect the exploring surveys of Mitchell and Kennedy with his own; such proposal to be accompanied by an estimate of the probable expense which it will be necessary to incur.
EDWARD C. MEREWETHER,
Clerk of the Council.
Executive Council Office,
Sydney, 22 September, 1857.
A.C. GREGORY, ESQUIRE, TO THE COLONIAL SECRETARY.
Sydney, 15 September, 1857.
Adverting to your verbal communication of yesterday, with reference to the proposed Expedition in search of traces of Dr. Leichhardt, I have the honour to furnish a memorandum of the arrangements I would suggest for the organisation and conduct of a party calculated to effect the objects in view, together with an estimate of the probable cost.
These documents I have submitted to such of the gentlemen composing the Committee of the Leichhardt Association as I have had the opportunity of consulting, and I have availed myself of their experience of the District in which the Expedition would be organised.
Although I have allowed extreme rates for many of the items of expenditure, yet, as in all undertakings of this description unavoidable and unforeseen contingencies are certain to arise, I should scarcely feel justified in naming the gross amount which should be available, though not necessarily expended, at a less sum than 4,500 pounds.
I have, etc.,
The Honourable the Colonial Secretary.
MEMORANDUM FOR THE ORGANISATION OF AN EXPLORING EXPEDITION FOR THE PURPOSE OF SEARCHING FOR TRACES OF DR. LEICHHARDT'S PARTY.
The objects of the proposed Expedition would be primarily to search for traces of Dr. Leichhardt and his party, who started from the settled districts of New South Wales in April, 1848, with the intention of proceeding to Western Australia, and, if possible, to ascertain the fate of that unfortunate explorer. Secondly, the examination of the country both in the intervening spaces between the tracks of previous explorers, and also beyond the limits of that hitherto explored, with a view of developing its resources, especially with reference to its capabilities for settlement.
The party despatched by the Colonial Government, under Mr. Hely, in 1851-2, traced Dr. Leichhardt to a spot near the head of the Warrego River.
Beyond this spot Dr. Leichhardt had expressed his intention of proceeding down the Victoria River to its northern bend, and then shape his course along the interior slope of the ranges which he supposed existed at the sources of the streams flowing to the northern coast.
The proposed route of the searching Expedition would therefore be to reach Leichhardt's last known camp, and then to examine the banks of the Victoria River to the junction of the Alice River, at the northern bend, where especial search would be made, as Dr. Leichhardt intended to leave letters there, and would probably encamp for several days to recruit before finally entering the unknown country; and the non-existence of marks at this point would be almost conclusive evidence that the party had perished nearer to the settlements.
In the search for traces of the missing party beyond this point (as it could only be at the camping places that any traces would remain after so long an interval), it would be necessary to follow such natural features as would probably have influenced the party in the selection of its route, assuming that the general course would be north-west.
The investigation having been carried to the fullest extent that time and circumstances would admit, the searching party would adopt such a route on its return as would intersect the greatest extent of unexamined country. To effect these objects it is proposed to organise a party at one of the outer stations, say at Surat, on the Lower Condamine River, from which Leichhardt's last known camp is 230 miles, and the junction of the Alice with the Victoria River, 370 miles, not allowing for deviations.
The party to consist of two sections, which may be termed the Exploring and the Auxiliary parties.
The first would comprise eight persons, equipped and provisioned for 5 months, and for the conveyance of which 32 horses would be required, as follows:
1 Aboriginal Stockman.
The second section would be composed of six persons, provisioned etc., for 2 months, and for the conveyance of which 13 horses would be required, as follows:
1 Aboriginal Black.
These two sections would proceed together to the junction of the Alice and Victoria Rivers, and would be sufficiently strong to detach parties to examine points out of the more direct line of route which the main body would follow.
On reaching the spot above referred to, the Exploring Party would be fitted out in the most efficient manner for continuing its operations, by selecting the strongest and most serviceable portion of the horses, equipment, etc., while the Auxiliary Party would return with the remainder to the settlements; thus affording nearly all the advantages of a depot, without incurring the greater expense or inconvenience attending the otherwise necessary return of the Exploring Party by the same route.
It is scarcely necessary to advert to the many advantages which would be derived from this arrangement, for enabling the Exploring Party to reach the extreme known point of country, with its strength impaired in the least possible degree, while it would afford an opportunity of testing the capabilities of the party to be finally selected.
ESTIMATE OF THE COST (IN POUNDS/SHILLINGS/PENCE) OF THE EQUIPMENT, ETC., OF THE EXPLORING PARTY.
PROVISIONS. 1400 pounds Flour : 17/10/0. 500 pounds Bacon : 25/0/0. 400 pounds Sugar : 10/0/0. 70 pounds Tea : 7/0/0. 750 pounds Meat Biscuit : 37/10/0. 70 pounds Tobacco : 8/15/0. 20 pounds Sago : 0/13/4. 6 pounds Pepper : 0/6/0. 50 pounds Salt : 0/5/0. 50 pounds Soap : 0/18/8. 6 pounds Sperm Candles : 0/9/0. 150 pounds Dried Beef—800 pounds fresh meat : 10/0/0. 1000 pounds Fresh Meat : 12/0/0. SUBTOTAL : 130/7/0.
TRANSPORT. 45 Horses, at 40 pounds : 1800/0/0. 14 Riding Saddles, at 60 shillings : 42/0/0. 31 Pack Saddles, at 77 shillings 6 pence : 120/2/6. 45 Bridles and Headstalls, at 9 shillings : 20/5/0. 45 Horse Blankets, at 8 shillings : 18/0/0. 100 Hobbles, at 4 shillings : 20/0/0. 20 Pairs Girths, at 4 shillings : 4/0/0. 31 Canvas Saddle-bags, at 25 shillings : 38/17/0. 100 Provision Bags, at 3 shillings : 15/0/0. 40 Yards Canvas, at 1 shilling 6 pence : 3/0/0. 10 Horse-bells, at 6 shillings 6 pence : 3/5/0. Materials for repairs, etc. : 20/0/0. 90 Sets Horse-straps and Nails : 10/0/0. 100 Saddle-straps, at 1 shilling : 5/0/0. SUBTOTAL : 2119/9/6.
ARMS AND AMMUNITION. 13 Double guns, at 5 pounds : 65/0/0. 13 Revolvers, at 5 pounds : 65/0/0. 30 pounds Gunpowder : 6/0/0. 150 pounds Shot and Lead : 3/0/0. 5000 Percussion Caps : 1/10/0. 14 Belts and Pouches : 3/10/0. 14 Gun-buckets : 4/18/0. Sundries : 10/0/0. SUBTOTAL : 158/18/0.
CAMP EQUIPAGE. 14 Calico Sheets for Tents, at 12 shillings : 8/8/0. 50 yards Calico, at 6 pence : 1/5/0. 6 Camp Kettles, at 5 shillings : 1/10/0. 40 Pannikins, at 8 pence : 1/6/8. 3 Leather Buckets, at 17 shillings 6 pence : 2/12/6. 20 Tin Dishes, at 9 pence : 0/15/0. 2 Frying-Pans, at 4 shillings 6 pence : 0/9/0. 2 Water Bags, at 30 shillings : 3/0/0. 14 Water Holders, India-Rubber, at 10 shillings 6 pence : 7/7/0. 2 Socket Shovels, at 2 shillings 6 pence : 0/5/0. 2 spring Balances, at 7 shillings : 0/14/0. SUBTOTAL : 27/12/2.
INSTRUMENTS, ETC. 1 Sextant : 10/0/0. 1 Prismatic Compass : 3/0/0. 1 Artificial Horizon : 4/0/0. 4 Pocket Compasses : 1/0/0. 2 Aneroid Barometers : 7/0/0. 3 Thermometers : 1/1/0. 1 Lever Watch : 9/0/0. Stationery : 5/0/0. SUBTOTAL : 40/1/0.
CLOTHING. 20 Trousers, at 7 shillings : 7/0/0. 20 Serge Shirts, at 6 shillings : 6/0/0. 20 Cotton Shirts, at 3 shillings : 3/0/0. 20 Pairs of Boots, at 15 shillings : 15/0/0. 14 Blankets, at 10 shillings : 7/0/0. 14 Oiled Capes, at 10 shillings : 7/0/0. SUBTOTAL : 45/0/0.
TOTAL EQUIPMENT : 2521/7/8.
CONTINGENCIES. Medical Stores and Drugs : 20/0/0. Petty Contingencies : 50/0/0. Collection and Forage for Horses prior to starting : 100/0/0. Freights and Passages from Sydney to Moreton Bay : 50/0/0. Conveyance of Stores from Brisbane to Surat : 200/0/0. Contingent Expenses in the Collection of the Party at Surat : 100/0/0. TOTAL CONTINGENCIES : 520/0/0.
SALARIES. Commander, 9 months, 600 pounds per annum : 450/0/0. Assistant, 7 months, 300 pounds per annum : 175/0/0. Overseer, 6 months, at 150 pounds per annum : 75/0/0. 4 Stockmen, 6 months, at 2 pounds per week : 208/0/0. 1 Aboriginal Stockman, 6 months : 20/0/0. Leader of the Auxiliary Party, 3 months : 75/0/0. 4 Stockmen, 3 months : 104/0/0. 1 Aboriginal Stockman, 3 months : 10/0/0. TOTAL SALARIES : 1117/0/0.
RECAPITULATION. EQUIPMENT : 2521/7/8. CONTINGENT EXPENSES : 520/0/0. SALARIES : 1117/0/0. TOTAL : 4158/7/8.
Sydney, 16th September, 1857.
1858. LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY, NEW SOUTH WALES.
EXPEDITION IN SEARCH OF DR. LEICHHARDT.
REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS.
ORDERED BY THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY TO BE PRINTED, 1 SEPTEMBER, 1858.
REPORT OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE EXPEDITION IN SEARCH OF DR. LEICHHARDT AND PARTY.
8TH DECEMBER, 1857, TO 11TH JANUARY, 1858.
Having received instructions from the Honourable the Secretary for Lands and Public Works to organise an expedition for the purpose of searching for traces of Dr. Leichhardt and party, who left New South Wales in 1848 with the intention of proceeding overland to Western Australia, I proceeded to Moreton Bay with such portions of the equipment as had been prepared in Sydney. On reaching Ipswich forty horses were purchased, and having despatched the stores to Mr. Royd's station, on the Dawson River, by drays, the party were collected at that place; but, owing to unforeseen delays in the transport of the stores, the equipment and organisation of the expedition was not complete till the latter part of March.
The following list of the party, horses, stores, etc., will show the principal arrangements.
The party consisted of nine persons, namely: Commander A.C. Gregory; assistant commander, C.F. Gregory; assistant, S. Burgoyne; overseer, G. Phibbs; stockmen, etc., R. Bowman, W. Selby, T. Dunn, W. von Wedel, and D. Worrell. The stock consisted of horses alone, comprising thirty-one pack and nine saddle horses, completely equipped. Provisions comprised the dried meat of two bullocks and four sheep, weighing, as butcher's meat, 16 hundredweight; but when dried and the bones removed, reduced to 300 pounds. In addition to this 500 pounds bacon, 1600 pounds flour, 100 pounds rice, 350 pounds sugar, 60 pounds tea, 40 pounds tobacco, and some minor articles. The arms and ammunition were: one minie rifle, eight double-barrel guns, nine revolver pistols, 25 pounds gunpowder, 150 pounds shot and balls, percussion caps, etc. For the conveyance of water two leather water-bags were provided, each holding five gallons, besides which each of the party was furnished with a water-bag of India-rubber holding three pints. The tents were made of calico, each suited for the accommodation of two persons, and the several articles of camp equipage were of the lightest construction consistent with the service required. The instruments employed were an eight-inch sextant, box-sextant, prismatic compasses, pocket compasses, double axis compass, aneroid barometers, thermometers, and artificial horizon, etc. Including forty sets of horse-shoes, farrier's and carpenter's tools, together with sundry material for repairs, etc., the total weight of the equipment was about 4,600 pounds, exclusive of the saddles and harness, which gave an average load of 150 pounds as the net load carried by each pack-horse.
THE PARTY START FROM JUANDA STATION.
24th March to 27th March.
These arrangements being complete, the expedition left Juanda, and proceeded by the road to Mr. Cardew's station at Euroomba, from which, under the guidance of Mr. Bolton—whose local knowledge was of material service—we made our way through the dense scrubs and broken country to the west for about thirty miles, to the head of Scott's Creek, a small tributary of the Dawson River.
The general course was now west-north-west through a country with rich grassy valleys and dense scrubs of brigalow acacia on the higher ground. Green grass was abundant at this time; but I fear that in seasons of drought few of the waterholes are permanent; the timber consists of ironbark, box, and a few other species of eucalyptus—the brigalow acacia attaining the height of thirty feet; soft brown sandstones of the coal measures are the prevailing rock, forming hills with table summits.
With some difficulty, owing to the dense scrubs, we crossed the basaltic ridge which divides the eastern waters flowing to the Dawson River from those trending to the west into the basin of the Maranoa River, a tributary of which—probably the Merivale River—was followed westward. The country became more sandy, timbered with ironbark, cypress, etc. The whole was, however, well grassed, and suited for grazing, if not too heavily stocked.
Reaching the Maranoa River in about latitude 25 degrees 45 minutes, water was scarcely procurable in the sandy bed, and we had to dig wells to obtain a supply.
7th April to 12th April.
Warned by the fact that Messrs. H. Gregory and Haly had been unable to penetrate the country to the west from scarcity of water, even three months earlier in the season, we followed up the Maranoa to Mount Owen, and having found a sufficient supply of water and grass for a few days' halt, I proceeded to reconnoitre the country to the west, and at length found a practicable route to the tributaries of the Warrego River, to which the party was advanced. A heavy shower of rain had filled the gullies in this locality, and green grass clothed the country, forming a striking contrast to the dry and waterless valley of the Maranoa.
15th to 16th April.
Fine openly timbered valleys, well suited for pasture, alternated with ridges of scrub of brigalow acacia till we reached Mount Playfair, a basaltic hill on the sandstone ridge which separates the Warrego Valley from that of the Nive, a small branch of which was followed down to its junction with the main channel in latitude 25 degrees 6 minutes. The soil in the valley of the Nive is sandy, thinly grassed, and openly timbered with ironbark spotted gum, etc.; the back country rising into low sandstone ridges, covered with dense scrub of brigalow acacia. Some pools of permanent water containing small fish were passed, on the bank of which the remains of numerous native camps were seen.
From the Nive River a north-north-west course was pursued through a nearly level sandy country, covered with a scrub of acacia, eucalypti, bottle-tree, etc., which offered great impediments to our progress, till within six miles of the Victoria River, when we suddenly emerged from the scrub on to open downs of rich clay soil; but the drought had been of such a long continuance that the whole of the vegetation had been destroyed and swept away by the wind, leaving the country to all appearance an absolute desert. The bed of the Victoria was scarcely ten yards wide, and perfectly dry, so that it was only after a prolonged search along its course that a small puddle of water was found in a hollow of the clay flat, and near it, fortunately for our horses, a little grass growing in widely scattered tufts.
THE BARCOO RIVER.
Being now on the line of route which Dr. Leichhardt had stated his intention of following, the party was divided, so that both sides of the river were examined in all probable positions in which his camps might have been situated; but as the high floods appeared to have inundated the country for nearly a mile on each bank last year, all tracks of previous explorers were necessarily obliterated, and it was only by marked trees, or the bones of cattle, that we could hope to discover any trace. During the first two days' journey down the river only a few small pools of water were seen, and these not of a permanent character, while the rich vegetation on the open downs, which had excited the admiration of Sir T. Mitchell on his discovery of the country in a favourable season, had wholly passed away, leaving little but a bare surface of clay, the deep fissures in its surface giving evidence of long-continued drought.