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Successful Exploration Through the Interior of Australia
by William John Wills
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The Wonominta Ranges are high, bare-looking hills, lying to the eastward of the creek; the highest peaks must be between two and three thousand feet above the sea. The blacks say that there is no water in them—an assertion that I can scarcely credit. They say, however, that there is a fine creek, with permanent water, to the east of the ranges, flowing northwards. At the point of the Wonominta Creek where we camped there is a continuous waterhole of more than a mile long, which, they say, is never dry. It is from fifteen to twenty feet broad, and averages about five feet in depth, as near as I could ascertain. From this point, Camp 43, the creek turns to the north-west and around to north, where it enters a swamp, named Wannoggin; it must be the same that Sturt crossed in coming across from Evelyn Plains. In going over to Wannoggin, a distance of fourteen miles, I found the plains everywhere intersected by small creeks, most of them containing water, which was sheltered from the sun by the overhanging branches of drooping shrubs, tall marshmallows, and luxuriant salt bushes; and at some of them were hundreds of ducks and waterhens. When crossing some flats of light-coloured clay soil, near Wannoggin, and which were covered with box timber, one might almost fancy himself in another planet, they were so arid and barren. The Wannoggin Swamp is at present dry, but I believe it is generally a fine place for water. Birds are very numerous about there, and I noticed that by far the greater portion of the muslka trees (a species of acacia) contained nests, either old or new.

At about twenty miles from Wonominta, in a north-north-easterly direction, there is a fine creek, with a waterhole about a mile long, which we passed; and Mr. Wright tells me there is a larger one further up the creek.

The land in the neighbourhood of the Torowoto Swamp is very fine for pastoral purposes. It is rather low and swampy, and therefore better for cattle than for sheep. There appears to be a gradual fall in the land from Totoynya to this place, amounting to about 500 feet. This swamp can scarcely be more than 600 feet above the sea, if so much. The highest ground over which we have passed has been in the Mount Doubeny Ranges, from Langawirra to Bengora, and that appears to be about 1000 feet above the sea. Mount Bengora is, by barometrical observation, about 300 feet above the camp at Bengora, but it is not the highest peak in the range by perhaps fifty or sixty feet; and I think we may assume that the highest peak does not exceed 1,500 feet above the sea.

Meteorogical.—We have been very fortunate up to the present time as regards the weather, both in having had plenty of water and moderate temperatures. The thermometer has never risen above 88.5 degrees in the shade, and has seldom been below 50 degrees, the average daily range having been from 58 to 80 degrees. During our stay on the Darling, the temperature of the water varied very slightly, being always between 65 and 67 degrees. The winds have generally been light, frequently going all round the compass in the course of the day; but in any case it has almost invariably fallen calm after sunset. Cirri and cirrostratus clouds have been very prevalent during the day, and cumulostratus during the night.

Wells and Creeks.—The temperature of the water in the well at Kokriega, at ten A.M. October 21, was 58.5 degrees, being exactly the same as the temperature of the air. That of the water between the rocks, at Bilpa, at five P.M. on the same day, was 64 degrees, the temperature of air being 75 degrees. The temperature of the water in the sand at Naudtherungee, at seven A.M. on the 26th, was 59.5 degrees, that of the air being 62 degrees. At five A.M. October 28, the temperature of the water in Wonominta Creek was 63. 5 degrees, that of the air being 62 degrees.

Note.—The temperature of the water is always taken within six inches of the surface.

. . .

The Royal Commission of Inquiry censured Mr. Burke for the appointment of Mr. Wright, without personal knowledge of him; and, judging by the lamentable results, a grave mistake it was. But Mr. Burke was placed in great difficulty by the resignation of Mr. Landells and Dr. Beckler, and acted to the best of his judgment under the circumstances, with the means at his disposal. His confidence, too hastily bestowed, was repaid by ingratitude and contumely. Wright never spoke of his commander without using terms of disparagement, and dwelling on his incapacity. "He was gone to destruction," he said, "and would lose all who were with him." He repeated these words to me, and others even stronger, both in Melbourne and in Adelaide. McDonough, in his evidence before the Royal Commission, was asked, "What did you say as to Mr. Wright's desponding?" He answered (436): "He always gave Mr. Burke up as lost; said he was neither gone to Queensland nor anywhere else; the man has rushed madly on, depending upon surface water, and is lost in the desert. He never gave us any hope for him; in fact, so much so, that I offered to make a bet that he would be found at Queensland, or turn up somewhere."

It has been seen by Mr. Burke's despatch of the 29th of October, that he gave orders to Mr. Wright to follow him up to Cooper's Creek with the remainder of the camels and supplies, without unnecessary delay. McDonough states (Answer 197) that Mr. Burke said to him, on the 15th of December, "I expect Mr. Wright up in a few days—a fortnight at farthest. I left him POSITIVE INSTRUCTIONS to follow me." King states (Answer 693) "that on the 16th of December, Mr. Burke told the party 'he then expected Mr. Wright daily.'" Wright himself states in his evidence (Answer 1235), "I gave Mr. Burke my word that I would take the remainder of the party out, as soon as I returned to Menindie."

A circumstance happened about this time, (December 1860), which delayed him, but not even that necessarily. Information reached Melbourne that Mr. Stuart had nearly penetrated to the Gulf of Carpentaria, more to the westward; that he had been driven back by the natives, but would start again immediately. The Committee thought it advisable to forward the intelligence to Mr. Burke. This was done by a despatch to Swan Hill, where Mr. Foster was superintendent of police. He accordingly sent on a trooper named Lyons, who followed in the track of the party, and arrived at Menindie just as Wright returned with his two natives, after escorting the expedition to Torowoto. Lyons refused to give up the despatch, as he had been ordered to place it in Mr. Burke's own hands. Here was a plausible excuse for Wright, no doubt, so he sent McPherson, a saddler by trade, who had been engaged en route by Mr. Burke, accompanied by Dick, a native, to assist Lyons in his pursuit of the leader. Had he put himself and the whole party in motion at once, the subsequent misfortunes would have been averted. Lyons and McPherson lost their way, being quite unable to overtake Mr. Burke, who had eight days' start, travelling at the rate of twenty miles a day. Neither had they ingenuity enough to find Mr. Burke's tracks, although accompanied by a native, which is inexplicable, if they trusted to Dick, who had both intelligence and energy of purpose. He found his way back to Wright, however, and was thus the means of saving the lives of the trooper and McPherson.

Hodgkinson, we have seen, was despatched by Wright to Melbourne, from Menindie, on the 19th of December, with letters assuming to be written by himself, but, in fact, by Hodgkinson. Whether the committee knew this does not appear: if they did not, here was one reason for confirming Wright's appointment. Hodgkinson reached Melbourne on the morning of the 30th, riding nearly four hundred miles in eleven days. A meeting of the committee was called on Monday, the 31st, at which his Excellency attended, and Hodgkinson started on his return the same evening. This certainly was business. Nearly double the sum that he had asked was allowed to Wright, in cash. From the 5th of November, he lingered at Menindie, until the 19th of December, doing nothing. He says he was waiting for an answer to a letter he had previously sent. Dr. Macadam, the Secretary, denies that he ever received such a letter. Wright is here unworthy of credit, for he could not write. This was extracted from himself, after considerable fencing, in his examination before the Commission on the 12th of December, 1861:—

MR. WM. WRIGHT further examined.

Question 1565. There is evidently some discrepancy between the statement that you wrote yourself on the 5th of November, when you came back, and the statement of Dr. Macadam that no such letter was ever received. This letter of yours of the 19th of December, is it written by yourself?—The one I sent myself?

1566. The one of the 19th of December, is it in your own handwriting?—The one that is missing?

1567. No; this one [handing a paper to the witness]?—No, it is not; Hodgkinson did all the writing.

1568. Did he write the one that is stated to be missing?—No, he did not.

1569. You wrote that one?—I wrote that with my own hand. I just wrote a few words.

1570. Could your memory serve you sufficiently to write the purport of that letter that is missing?—It would not.

1571. Nothing approaching to it?—I never thought for a moment of keeping a copy of it, or of giving it to Hodgkinson to keep a copy.

1572. Have you no recollection of the general purport of it?—I just mentioned that Mr. Burke had appointed me to take the party out and take the command; that is about the heads of it.

1573. Have you any objection to write a letter similar to that one, as nearly as you can remember it?—No. I write a very indifferent hand.

1574. Which was the reason, it is to be presumed, why you got some one to write the letter of the 19th?—Yes.

Hodgkinson arrived at Menindie on the 9th of January, 1861, and immediately placed in Wright's hands the following letter:—

Melbourne, December 31st.

SIR,

Your despatch of the 19th instant, forwarded per Mr. Hodgkinson, was laid before a meeting of the members of the Exploration Committee held this day, when the following resolutions were carried unanimously:

1. That a letter be forwarded to Mr. Wright, informing him that his appointment as third in command of the Victorian Expedition, by Mr. Burke, has been approved of and confirmed by this committee.

2. That Mr. Wright, third officer of the Victorian Expedition, be empowered to procure a number of horses (not more than ten), and the necessary accoutrements; and also one hundred and fifty (say 150) sheep, and be authorized to draw on the treasurer, the Honourable David E. Wilkie, M.D., M.L.C., for an amount not exceeding four hundred (say 400) pounds sterling, for their purchase, and other necessary incidental expenses.

I have further to inform you that Mr. Hodgkinson, who returns as the bearer of this despatch, will hand you an order from Mr. Superintendent Foster, of Swan Hill, to obtain from trooper Lyons the despatches for the leader, now in the possession of that officer, and which it is desired you should hand to Mr. Burke.

It is hoped by the committee, that trooper Lyons and saddler Macpherson have safely returned to the camp, and you will kindly report as to the manner in which the former has endeavoured to carry out the duty committed to his charge.

The medal for Dick, the aboriginal guide, bearing a suitable inscription, is forwarded with this despatch, and the committee leave in your hands the bestowal of such additional reward as you may deem proper—not exceeding five guineas (say 5 pounds 5 shillings.)

Captain Cadell informed the committee to-day that his store at Menindie would be at your service for depositing any articles you may find it inconvenient to remove to Cooper's Creek at present.

You will endeavour to secure, if possible, twelve pommel pack-saddles, now arrived, it is believed, on the Darling. These were forwarded via Adelaide, and will no doubt be of great use to the main party.

The committee desire that on your meeting with Mr. Burke, you will show him, and deposit with him, this despatch, as also a copy of yours of the 19th instant, together with copies of all despatches you may forward to the committee during Mr. Burke's absence; and the committee expect that you will communicate under such circumstances as frequently as possible.

Mr. Hodgkinson bears letters for the leader and Mr. Wills.

In conclusion, it is hoped that your endeavours to remove the stores from your present depot to Cooper's Creek will be early and successfully accomplished.

I have the honour to be, sir,

Your obedient servant,

(Signed) JOHN MACADAM, M.D., Secretary.

To Mr. Wright, third in command, temporary depot, Plurarmora Creek, Darling River, New South Wales.

. . .

Nothing can be clearer than the instructions herein conveyed; yet in the face of them, Wright made no start until the 26th of January. His answers to the Royal Commission were full of contradictions, but to the main question of his delay he gave no answer at all. From my own inquiries I never could make out that any one at Menindie thought him fit for the post, or undertook to recommend him. Captain Cadell did to the committee, but with Mr. Burke, Captain Cadell was not on speaking terms.

Mr. Burke and my son proceeded onwards, accompanied by the reduced party, consisting of Brahe, King, Gray, Patten, McDonough, and Dost Mahomet, fifteen horses and sixteen camels, on the 29th of September, 1860, and reached Cooper's Creek on the 11th of November, a distance of about 250 miles. Here my son went out occasionally, taking a man with him, to explore the country, far and near. His great desire was to reach Carpentaria by the shortest practicable cut, and he inclined to a direct northern course, or to the eastward of north. The committee represented afterwards, as prominently as they could put it, that Mr. Burke was left unshackled on this point, but still suggestions were offered, which a leader naturally considers he is expected to listen to. One of these was, that on leaving Cooper's Creek they should proceed towards Eyre's Creek and Sturt's Farthest (September, 1845); for which I refer the reader to the map. My son could not see the wisdom of this, as Sturt had declared that beyond that point he saw nothing but an impenetrable desert. McDouall Stuart's return to Adelaide was also reported, and that he was about to start again: it therefore became a rival race as to who should reach the goal first.

With reference to my son's exploration trips during the halt at Cooper's Creek, Mr. Brahe, on his examination before the Royal Commission, gave the following particulars:—

We travelled down the creek; our first camp on Cooper's Creek was Camp 57; from some of the first camps Mr. Wills went out exploring the creek.

Question 148. How long did you remain at the first camp?—One night; at the second camp, two days; and at the third camp, two days; and from each camp Mr. Wills went down tracing the creek.

149. And you remained two days at each camp for three camps down the creek?—Yes.

150. Was the third camp the final camp formed on the creek?—No, at the 63rd camp the first depot was formed. We remained there a fortnight.

151. At the 63rd camp?—Yes, that would be the fifth or sixth camp on the creek.

152. What were you doing that fortnight?—Mr. Wills was exploring the country to the north; Mr. Burke was out with him once; Mr. Burke was out with me first, and we could not go far enough with horses, not finding any water away from the camp.

153. How far did you go?—About twenty-five miles straight; the weather being very hot we could not go further: we had to return the second day to the camp.

151. Then Mr. Wills went out by himself?—He went ninety miles; he took McDonough with him and three camels.

155. And he lost one of his camels, did he not?—He lost the three and returned on foot.

156. Was he much weakened by that journey?—Not Mr. Wills.

157. But McDonough was?—Rather.

158. Did they suffer from want of food as well as want of water? —No, only from want of water.

159. How long did you remain after that before there was a final start again?—I believe we started two or three days after that. Mr. Wills went out a second time from that camp with King and only two camels to bring down those things that he had left where he lost the camels.

160. How far was that from the creek?—Ninety miles.

161. And he went out with King and two camels for the things that he had left behind when he lost his camels and brought them back? —Yes; and on the same day, or the day after, when Mr. Wills went out on that second journey, Mr. Burke removed the depot to the lower place.

162. Did those camels lost by Mr. Wills ever turn up?—I believe two of them have been found near Adelaide.

163. In the meantime you went down to the last depot?—Yes.

164. How long did you remain there?—Mr. Burke started from there about five or six days after Mr. Wills returned from that second journey.

. . .

My son gives his own account of the exploration when the camels were lost, in the following letter to his sister:—

Cooper's Creek, December 6th, 1860. Latitude 27 degrees 36 minutes, Longitude 141 degrees 30 seconds.

MY DEAR BESSY,

You must excuse my writing with a pencil; ink dries so rapidly that it is a nuisance to use it. We have been here now about three weeks, and shall, I expect, make a start northwards in about a fortnight. Our journey to this point has been interesting, but not in any particular that you will care much about. Our party here consists of eight men, sixteen camels, and fourteen horses. We expect the rest of the men and camels up in a few weeks. Everything has been very comfortable so far; in fact, more like a picnic party than a serious exploration: but I suppose we shall have some little difficulties to contend with soon. I had an intimation of something of the kind a few days ago, having been out reconnoitring the country to the north for three days, with one man and three camels, and had found no water, so that the animals were very thirsty, and on the third night managed to get away from us, leaving us about eighty miles from the main camp, without hay or water, except what remained of that which we had brought with us; so here was nothing for it, but to walk home as soon as we could, carrying as much water as possible, to be drunk on the way. After searching about in order to be sure that the camels had gone home, we started at about half-past seven, and were lucky enough to find a creek with some water in it about ten miles on, where we remained until evening; for it is dry work travelling in the middle of the day, with the thermometer varying from 90 to 105 degrees in the shade, and about 140 degrees in the sun. Well, we started again in the evening and walked until between nine and ten P.M.; and again at three A.M. and pushed on until midday. We then went on from five P.M., as before, until nine P.M.; and then from two A.M., and reached the camp at nine A.M., having walked more than eighty miles in rather less than fifty hours, including sleeping, feeding, and all stoppages. We found no water all the way, except what I have mentioned above, so that, as you may imagine, we ran rather short towards the end of our journey, having not quite half a pint left between us. When we stopped to rest the second night, it had been blowing a hot wind all day, with the thermometer at 107 degrees in the shade. This made us require more water than usual. I can assure you there is nothing like a walk of this sort to make one appreciate the value of a drink of cold water. We feel no inclination for anything else, and smack our lips over a drop such as you would not think of tasting, with as much relish as ever any one did over the best sherry or champagne. I have enjoyed myself so far. It is now nearly four months since we left Melbourne, and you will see by the map that we are about half-way across the continent. I hope by the time that this reaches you we shall not only have been entirely across, but back here again, and possibly on our way to Melbourne. There is no probability of the expedition lasting two or three years. I expect to be in town again within twelve months from the time of starting. I enclose a few chrysanthemums from the Australian desert. I know you will highly prize them. To give you an idea of Cooper's Creek, fancy extensive flat, sandy plains, covered with herbs dried like hay, and imagine a creek or river, somewhat similar in appearance and size to the Dart above the Weir, winding its way through these flats, having its banks densely clothed with gum trees and other evergreens:—so far there appears to be a considerable resemblance, but now for the difference. The water of Cooper's Creek is the colour of flood-water in the Dart; the latter is a continuous running stream; Cooper's Creek is only a number of waterholes. In some places it entirely disappears, the water in flood-time spreading all over the flats and forming no regular channel. The flies are very numerous, so that one can do nothing without having a veil on; and whilst eating the only plan is to wear goggles.

. . .

His next letter is written with ink:—

December 15th.

DEAR BESSY,

Since scribbling the above, I have been up to the place from whence I had the walk I mentioned. The camels did not get away this time. We have shifted our quarters to a better place, about twenty miles down the creek. To-morrow we start for Eyre's Creek, about two hundred miles towards the Una. There have been heavy thunderstorms towards the north, and I hope we shall find plenty of water. If so, I shall soon be able to send you a good long letter without resorting to the use of a pencil. I wish I could send mamma a few lines, but she must read yours and fancy it written to her: I have not even time to send a line to my father. Tell mamma that I am getting into that robust state of health that I always enjoy when in the bush; a tremendous appetite, and can eat anything. One of our chief articles of consumption is horseflesh: it is very nice; you would scarcely know it from beef. Give my love to all, and

Believe me,

Ever your affectionate brother,

WILLIAM J. WILLS.

. . .

Here we find my son, between the 1st and 15th of December, travelling about five hundred miles, and walking from eighty to ninety. McDonough, in his examination, gave altogether a falsified account respecting the loss of the camels, as he also made a bombastic statement of his great intimacy with Mr. Burke. The real truth is, that McDonough was the least trustworthy of the party. He would not have been taken by my son, but in the morning Mr. Burke had volunteered to accompany him, so that McDonough would not have been left alone; but after travelling a short distance, Mr. Burke did not feel well, and returned. At the place mentioned by my son as having dismounted, he told McDonough that he wished to make some observations, and was going to a rising ground at a distance; that the camels should feed, but he was not to lose sight of them for an instant. Instead of attending to his instructions, McDonough set to work to light a fire and boil his pannikin. Perhaps he went to sleep; for he pointed out some stunted bushes in the distance and said they were the camels. My son then sent him to search for them, but they could not be found. King, the only survivor of the party, on his examination, said:—

Mr. Wills told me that the camels were lost through McDonough's neglect during the time he was writing and taking observations.

Question 1737. McDonough never disputed that, did he?—McDonough told me that it was while they were at supper in the evening; but I do not see how that could be, because they generally took supper, and ourselves, about six o'clock; and it was so dark that they could not see the camels, so that they were most likely lost when Mr. Wills was taking observations.

. . .

Mr. Burke, in his report from Cooper's Creek, dated December the 13th, says:—"Mr. Wills, upon one occasion, travelled ninety miles to the north, without finding water, when his camels escaped, and he and the man who accompanied him were obliged to return on foot, which they accomplished in forty-eight hours. Fortunately, upon their return they found a pool of water. The three camels have not yet been recovered. . .Mr. Wills co-operates cordially with me. He is a most zealous and efficient officer."

King, in the course of his evidence stated as follows:—

Question 667. What did you do when you got to Cooper's Creek; did you go on any of these expeditions with Mr. Burke or Mr. Wills? —Yes; when Mr. Burke made our first depot at the creek, Mr. Burke, Mr. Wills, and McDonough started one morning to try and find water some distance to the north. Mr. Burke seemed not to be well, and returned after going a mile or so, and so McDonough and Mr. Wills continued, and were away some few days; I do not know the exact number of days; they lost the camels (three in number) and had to return to the depot on foot.

668. After a few days?—Yes; after a few days.

669. Did you go out yourself on that expedition?—Not then; a few days after, Mr. Burke, Mr. Wills, and myself went to a distance of about seventy miles north; we could not find water; Mr. Wills found water when he and McDonough went before.

670. Did you go the same track as they did?—Yes; but I do not know how Mr. Wills could not find it; he seemed not to recognize the place.

671. Did you lose any horses or camels then?—None; we just rested, and Mr. Wills and myself went the third time, and found the water at a distance of about ninety miles to the north, and we also had to bring the camel saddles, and riding saddles, which Mr. Burke intended to take with him across the continent.

CHAPTER 8.

Mr. Wills's Survey of the line of Country pursued by the Expedition, from Torowoto Swamp to Cooper's Creek.

THE following reports, which were duly forwarded and published, contain interesting particulars of the country traversed, and the observations made between Torowoto and Cooper's Creek. They were accompanied by a tracing, which is shown on the map.

Camp 65, Depot, Cooper's Creek, December 15th, 1860.

SIR,

I have had the honour to place in the hands of our leader, for transmission to the committee, my third report, and a tracing, showing the country traversed since my last was written. I regret that I have been unable to devote as much attention to either as I could have desired; but I have no doubt the committee will make due allowance for my want of time, and the inconveniences attending the execution of such work in our present position.

I have, etc.

WILLIAM J. WILLS, Surveyor and Assistant Observer.

The Honorary Secretary of the Exploration Committee.

(Forwarded).

Depot, December 16, 1860.

As Mr. Wills's report, with which I fully concur, contains all the necessary details with regard to the state of the country through which we passed, I have not referred to the subject in mine.

R. O'HARA BURKE, Leader.

The Honorary Secretary of the Exploration Committee.

The accompanying tracing will show the course taken by the expedition party from the Torowoto Swamp, in latitude 30 degrees 1 minute 30 seconds south, longitude 142 degrees 36 minutes east, to the depot on Cooper's Creek, Camp 65, latitude 27 degrees 37 minutes 8 seconds south, longitude 141 degrees 6 minutes east.

Water supply between Torowoto and Wright's Creek.—The country traversed to the north of the Torowoto Swamp, and lying between that place and Wright's Creek, is neither so well grassed nor watered as that to the south of the Swamp; the land falls considerably as far as Cangapundy, and a great extent of it is subject to inundation. Nearly all the water met with was thick and muddy: it was met with in small clay pans, most of which would probably be dry in three weeks. This applies to all the places at which we found water, with the exception of Cannilta, Cangapundy, —and the four waterholes to the south of Wright's Creek.

Cannilta.—Cannilta is a waterhole of good clear water in a small rocky creek which runs out on the low mud flats and swampy ground lying between Altoka and Tangowoko: it is situated in latitude 29 degrees 26 minutes 42 seconds south, longitude 142 degrees 40 minutes east, by account, nearly a mile from the north-westernmost point of the swampy ground. This point may be distinguished by the growth of a coarse kind of reedy grass, which does not make its appearance on the southern portion of the swamp or lake. The water in the hole was only two or three feet deep, but is well shaded by box trees, and will probably last two or three months. The temperature of the surface of the water at seven A.M., 2nd of November, was 60.5 degrees; that of the air being at the same time 60 degrees.

The Cangapundy Swamp.—The Cangapundy Swamp is an extensive tract of low clay land, which bears the appearance, as regards the vegetation of its banks, of having a tolerably permanent supply of water; but, unless some portions of the swamp are much deeper than where we passed, the water could not last throughout a dry season. The banks of the swamp are densely clothed with grasses, marshmallows, polygonum bushes, and shrubs, which shelter numerous kinds of waterfowl and snakes.

Character of Land.—It will be seen by the tracing that a large proportion of the land between Torowoto and Wright's Creek is composed of low mud plains and clay flats, subject to inundation. Most of these are devoid of vegetation of any kind, and others carry some stunted salt bushes and coarse grasses, which appear to be struggling between life and death. Bounding the mud-flats are generally some stony rises well grassed and sometimes lightly timbered. The more elevated plains are sandy, and support a fine supply of healthy salt bushes, as well as here and there a few grasses. On the rises to the south-south-east of Cannilta may be seen great quantities of quartz rock, forming dykes in the schist rises: the latter in some places adjoin, and run into hills of loose stone, having the appearance of indurated clay. From Cangapundy to Wright's Creek the ground is light-coloured, and of a clayey nature: it forms a series of dry clay-pans, separated from one another by low sandy banks, on which the vegetation was fresh and green. At about seventeen miles from the former place are three large holes with water from two to three feet deep in the deepest part, and at six miles further another large one which might almost be termed a lake, being nearly 1000 links square. About these there were some lines of sandhills running about north-east and south-west; and in one of the flats between the sandhills I found several pieces of satin spar in lumps of the size of one's hand, partially buried in the ground, and all of them with the plane of cleavage nearly perpendicular with the surface to the ground.

Balloo, or Wright's Creek.—The lower portion of Wright's Creek, called by the natives "Balloo," is situated in latitude 28 degrees 48 minutes south, and longitude 142 degrees 53 minutes east by account. At this point, the creek, after breaking into several small channels, runs out on a grassy plain, the water running in a southerly direction, probably until it meets that from the Torrens and other creeks at the Cangapundy Swamp. There was plenty of water in this part of the creek when we passed, but I cannot speak to its permanence. The banks are well lined with box timber, as well as with marshmallows and wild spinach: the land on either side consists of well-grassed sandy rises. At four or five miles above this, the creek is a narrow, dry, sandy watercourse, winding through a grassy valley, which everywhere presents indications of the most violent floods. Beyond this is an extensive grassy plain; and for three or four miles scarcely a trace of the creek could be seen. We then came to a clump of trees, amongst which were two large waterholes surrounded by polygonum bushes, and containing great numbers of small fish. These holes appear to be permanent. We found about sixty blacks camped here. Above these waterholes, which are together about half a mile long, the creek again disappears on the plain. The land for the next ten or twelve miles in a north-north-easterly direction is very fine for pastoral purposes, being alternately grassy plains and ridges. At twelve or thirteen miles we crossed the creek where it has cut for itself a deep narrow channel, the banks of which are densely timbered and well grassed, but the waterholes are small, and contained very little water. For a distance of six miles the creek is of a very insignificant character. It appears to be divided into several branches, which traverse clay flats badly grassed. Here and there are some lines of low sandy rises, with plenty of feed on them. All the watercourses are distinctly marked by lines of box timber. At about nine miles from where we crossed the creek, and after traversing some loose polygonum ground, which was covered with mussel shells and a shell resembling a periwinkle, we came to a branch of the creek containing a splendid waterhole 150 links broad and about half a mile long. A little above this the creek again disappears for a short distance, and then there is a long narrow channel of undoubtedly permanent water, being nearly four feet deep in the shallowest places; it is only on an average about fifty links broad, and well sheltered by overhanging box trees. The temperature of the water on the morning of the 7th November, at six o'clock, was 68 degrees; the temperature of the air at the same time being 50.5 degrees. Our camp at this place is indicated by a box tree marked B over LII in square, the geographical position of which is by account 28 degrees 26 minutes 9 seconds south latitude, and longitude 143 degrees 0 minutes east. In proceeding from here in a north-north-easterly direction up the course of the creek, or rather of the water, for the creek is again lost on the plains for five or six miles, we passed the southernmost point of a prominent sandstone range, the nearest portion of which lay about a mile and a half to the westward. At about nine miles we again touched the creek, where it is about three chains broad. The banks are firm and shelving, from ten to twelve feet above the water, and lined with box, acacias, some large gums, gigantic marshmallows, polygonum, etc. In the creek there is abundance of fish, and the ducks and other waterfowl on it are numberless. From what we have seen of the blacks, I should say the population cannot be far short of 150, and it might be considerably more. From here we proceeded in an east-north-easterly direction along the west bank of this fine waterhole, and at two and a half miles found it begin rapidly to decrease in breadth, and a little further on there was nothing but a few small stony watercourses traversing a dense box forest: at this point there is a level bed of sandstone pebbles, close to and over a part of which the creek flows. The blacks have here gone to the trouble of making paths for themselves, along which we turned off from the creek on a north-north-easterly course, and at about three miles, coming on earthy plains, with no signs of water ahead, we again turned in to the creek and camped at a small waterhole. From here the line of river timber continues in a north-easterly direction. To the west and north-north-west is a line of sandstone ranges running off in the same direction. The land in the immediate vicinity of the creek on the west side is very poorly grassed all the way up from where we crossed it: that on the east side appeared to be better.

I think there can scarcely be a doubt but that this creek is the lower portion of the Warrego River, although I believe that its main supply of water is obtained from the adjoining ranges, which send down innumerable creeks into the flats through which it flows.

Some latitude observations at Camp 53, (the furthest point to which we traced the creek) placed us in 28 degrees 16 minutes 40 seconds south; our latitude, by account, being 28 degrees 17 minutes 8 seconds, and longitude, 143 degrees 18 minutes east. On Thursday, November 8th, we left Wright's Creek with the intention of crossing the ranges to Cooper's Creek. We found the land as we approached the hills well grassed, and in some places densely timbered: it is intersected by numerous watercourses with deep sandy channels, in most of which there seemed little chance of finding water. We camped at a waterhole in McDonagh's Creek; the spot is indicated by a gum tree marked B over LIV within square.

De Rinsy's Tracks.—Near here we found the tracks of drays; there were four distinct tracks, two of which appeared to be those of heavy horse drays, the other two might have been made by light ones or ring carts; we were unable to make out the tracks of the horses or cattle. I cannot imagine what tracks these are, unless they may be those of De Rinsy, who, I believe, had some drays with him, and reported that he had been somewhere in this direction. From Camp 54 to Camp 55 we were obliged to take a very circuitous route on account of the rugged and stony nature of the ranges, which were more extensive than we had anticipated. They stretch away far to the north and north-north-west, and although we kept well out to the north-west we were unable to avoid the low stony rises which adjoin them.

On the north-west side of the hills we crossed two dry creeks which flow in a north-north-easterly direction; their banks are thinly lined with box trees, and the holes in them were quite dry. From this we took a west-north-westerly course, across an undulating country covered with sandstone, quartz, and (magnetic) ironstone pebbles, so densely and firmly set together in some places as to have the appearance of an old-fashioned pavement. At about three miles, we had to change our course to north-west, to avoid a spur of the high range on our left. At two miles further we came to a grassy flat through which ran a fine-looking creek, but the bed was sandy and quite dry; there were, however, a good many small birds about here, which would indicate that there must be water in the neighbourhood. We here again changed our course to west-north-west, and at six miles camped at a dry stony creek, having travelled about eight-and-twenty miles over the worst ground that we had yet met with. On the morning of the 10th we continued on a west-north-westerly course, across stony ground of the same nature as that passed during the previous day; but at a distance of five miles we turned to west quarter south, as the ranges appeared to be as low in that direction as in the other; and as they ran nearly north-north-west there seemed a chance of sooner getting out of them, which we did at a distance of about eight miles more.

From the point at which we emerged from these ranges the view was as follows:—From south-west nearly up to north-west were extensive plains, as far as the eye could reach, intersected by numerous lines of timber, the general direction of which was about north-north-west. Several columns of smoke were visible along these lines, some of which had the appearance of camp and others of bush fires. From north-west to north were lines of ranges running in a north-westerly direction, and in the valley between us and the first spur was a fine line of timber, indicating the course of what appeared to be a large creek, probably the recipient of all the small creeks that we had crossed during the morning; in every other direction there was nothing to be seen but timbered sandstone ranges. At noon we crossed a small creek running nearly north: the grass had been burnt on its banks. About half a mile beyond it was another creek of a more promising appearance, and as we approached it we saw several crows, as well as other birds, in the trees. We here found a small hole with the water fast drying up; it contained a lot of young fish about half an inch long, and just sufficient water to replenish our water bags and give the horses a drink; below it the creek took a north-north-westerly course, and was dry and sandy for a distance of two miles and a half, at which point we found some large but shallow holes of milky-looking water. On the plains near these holes we found large flocks of pigeons. The grass was very coarse and dry, and the water would probably not last more than a few weeks.

Horse Tracks.—On the plains to the east of the creek were the tracks of a single horse, which had evidently crossed when the ground was very soft, and gone in a south-westerly direction.

Position of Water.—The waterholes are situated in latitude 27 degrees 51 south, longitude 142 degrees 40 minutes east, by account from Camp 55. From here a course of west half south took us in a distance of about twenty miles to Cooper's Creek, which we first struck in latitude 27 degrees 49 minutes south, longitude 142 degrees 20 minutes east. The land through which we passed on the 11th was so low and wooded as to prevent me from seeing the direction of the ranges; the first five or six miles was tolerably open. We then came to a box forest, where the soil was loose and earthy, similar to polygonum ground; there were in every direction signs of heavy floods and frequent inundations. We crossed several small watercourses, in one of which there was a hole of rather creamy water, at which we halted for an hour. From the waterhole we quite unexpectedly obtained a rather fine fish, about eight inches long, of the same description as the young ones we had found in Brahe's Creek.

Cooper's Creek.—At the point at which we first struck Cooper's Creek it was rocky, sandy, and dry; but about half a mile further down we came to some good waterholes, where the bed of the creek was very boggy, and the banks richly grassed with kangaroo and other grasses. The general course is a little north of west, but it winds about very much between high sand hills. The waterholes are not large, but deep, and well shaded, both by the steep banks and the numerous box trees surrounding them. The logs and bushes high upon the forks of the trees, tell of the destructive floods to which this part of the country has been subjected, and that at no very distant period, as may be seen by the flood marks on trees of not more than five or six years' growth.

From Camp 57 we traced the creek in a west-north-westerly direction about six miles. It then runs out among the sand hills, the water flowing by various small channels in a south-westerly direction. The main channel, however, continues nearly south until it is lost on an extensive earthy plain covered with marshmallows and chrysanthemums.

Creek.—In one of the valleys between the sand hills, at a distance of about ten miles in a south-westerly direction, we found a shallow waterhole where a creek is formed for a short distance, and is then lost again on the earthy plain beyond. West by north and west from here, about twelve miles, there are some splendid sheets of water, in some places two and three chains broad; the banks well timbered, but the land in the neighbourhood so loose and rotten that one can scarcely ride over it. I expect this is the reason why we saw no blacks about here, for it must be worse for them to walk over than the stony ground. From Camp 60 the general course of the creek is north-west, but it frequently disappears on the earthy plains for several miles, and then forms into waterholes again finer than before. At our first depot, Camp 63, in latitude 27 degrees 36 minutes 15 seconds south, longitude 141 degrees 30 minutes east, there is a fine hole about a mile long, and on an average one chain and a half broad. It exceeds five feet in depth everywhere that I tried it, except within three or four feet of the bank. Two or three miles above this camp we saw the first melaburus growing around the waterholes, some of them as large as a moderate size gum tree.

Earthy Flat.—The feed in the vicinity of Camp 63 is unexceptionable, both for horses and camels but the herbage on the creek generally down to this point is of a very inferior quality; the grasses are very coarse, and bear a very small proportion to the other plants. By far the chief portion of the herbage consists of chrysanthemums and marshmallows; the former, to judge from their dried-up powdery state, can contain very little nourishment, although some of the horses and camels eat them with great relish; the latter, I need hardly mention, are at this time of the year merely withered sticks. A few small salsolaceous plants are to be found on some of the flats, but they are scarcely worth mentioning. In some places where the bed of the creek is shallow and dry, there is an abundance of good grass and rushes of several kinds. The polygonum bushes are also fresh and good, in such places.

Stony Rises.—The stony rises are generally bare and barren; but some of those on the north side of the creek carry a fair crop of light grass.

Sand Hills.—Wherever there are sand banks or ridges the feed is almost invariably good; the salt bush is healthy and abundant, and there are a variety of plants on which cattle would do well. For camels, these hills are particularly well adapted, for there is scarcely a plant grows on them that they will not eat, with the exception of porcupine grass; but there is very little of that until one gets many miles back from the creek.

Character of Ground.—I have mentioned three distinct kinds of ground—the earthy plains, the stony rises, and the sand ridges. The latter, which is by far the most agreeable whether for travelling on, for feed, or in respect to the freedom from flies, ants, musquitoes, and rats, is simply a series of hills composed of blown sand of a red colour, very fine, and so compactly set that the foot does not sink in it much. In some places the ridges have a uniform direction, in others the hills are scattered about without any regularity; the average direction of the ridges is north-north-east and south-south-west. In the valleys between the hills, are shallow clay plains, in which the water rapidly collects, even after slight showers; but when full they seldom exceed five or six inches in depth, so that in summer they are soon dry again.

Stony Rises.—The stony ground, in contradistinction to the sandstone ranges, appears to have been formed from the detritus of the latter, deposited in undulating beds of vast extent. The greater portion of this ground appears almost level when one is on it, but when viewed from a distance the undulations are very distinct; the stones are chiefly water-worn pebbles of sandstone, quartz, and iron-stone; in some places the rises approach more nearly to the nature of the sandstone ranges, and here the stones are less water-worn, and are mixed with large blocks of rock. I found the magnetic polarity to be very distinct in some of the ironstone pebbles on these rises.

Earthy Plains.—The earthy plains which are such an important geological feature in this part of the country, will, I fear, greatly interfere with its future occupation. When dry they are so intersected by chasms and cracks that it is in some places dangerous for animals to cross them, and when wet they would be quite impassable. Cattle would, perhaps, do well on them for some time after an inundation, and the ground might improve after having been stocked. The boggy nature of the banks of the creeks passing through this ground would be another impediment to settlers, from the losses of cattle that it would sometimes entail. To furnish an idea of the danger in that respect, I may mention that there are places where, for a distance of two or three miles, neither a bullock nor a horse could get to the water with safety, and it was with difficulty that we could approach it ourselves; the safest spots are at the lower end of the waterhole, where the creeks run out on the plains. A peculiar geological feature that I have never seen so strongly exhibited elsewhere is, that the watercourses on these plains have a strong tendency to work away to the south and south-west; the fall of the ground, as shown by the flow of the flood water, being to the west and north-west. I found that at almost every place where a portion of the creek ran out, the small branches into which it split before disappearing, struck off at nearly right angles to the creek, and that the flow of the water on the level plain was invariably in a west or north-westerly direction; whereas the creeks generally had a course considerably to the south and west, more especially before running out. The branch creeks and waterholes are always lined with box trees and polygonum bushes; they are generally situated between or near sandhills, and have doubtless been formed by the rush of water consequent on the interference of these hills by the general flow. In some places the direction of the sand ridges was the course of the creeks, trending to the southward; but I allude to the tendency as exhibited on the open plain, with no sand ridges near the creek.

Country to the north of Camp 63,—Cooper's.—During our stay at Camp 63, from which spot we found it necessary to remove for several reasons, but chiefly because the rats attacked our stores in such numbers that we could keep nothing from them, unless by suspending it in the trees, four excursions were made to the north of that place in search of a practicable route to the Gulf. The first attempt was made with horses, which were soon knocked up from the strong nature of the ground and the want of water; the others we made with camels, by the help of which the country was well examined to a distance of nearly ninety miles. Water was found at two places at distances of about seventy and seventy-three miles north of the creek, but it was fast drying up, and would not last beyond Christmas. No blacks were seen, but a column of smoke was observed to the north-north-east, at a distance of about fifteen miles, as ascertained by some bearings, from the point at which we turned back. The chief portion of the land traversed consists of land-dunes and flats of the same nature, the latter clothed with porcupine grass, the former with salt bushes, grasses, and a variety of shrubs, sometimes intermixed with mesembryanthemums and porcupine grass. The sandy ground is bounded on either side by sandstone ranges, from which numerous small creeks flow east and west until they are lost in small flats and clay pans amongst the sand hills. Their course is marked by an acacia, which is somewhat analogous in its general characteristics to the common wattle; a few are favoured with some box trees, but we only found water in one. The whole country has a most deplorably arid appearance; birds are very scarce, native dogs numerous. The paths of the blacks on the strong ground look as if they had been used many years. Anthills and beds are to be found everywhere in great numbers and of considerable size; the paths to and from them are better marked and more worn than any I have ever seen before; but nearly all of them are deserted, and those that are inhabited contain a small and weakly population that seems to be fast dying away. Neither about the flats nor the ranges did we see any signs of the heavy floods that have left such distinct marks in other parts, and the appearance of the whole country gave me the idea of a place that had been subjected to a long-continued drought. At the northernmost end of the eastern line of ranges, and on the west side of them, in latitude 26 degrees 30 minutes south, longitude 141 degrees 40 minutes east, is a low detached line of range about seven miles from north to south. On passing inside this range at its southern extremity, one enters a flat bounded to the south by high red sand hills to the west and north by the low range, and running up to the north-north-east, until it reaches the main range. On the lower part of the flat there is no creek, but on proceeding up it, at a mile and a half there are three waterholes with a few bushes growing around them; the water was fast drying up when we were there. There were some ducks, snipe, and pigeons about them: the former always returned to the holes after having been disturbed, so I imagine there is not much more water in the vicinity. In continuing up the flat, the main creek appears to be that along which the box timber grows, but the bed is sandy and quite dry. By keeping off a little to the left, at a mile above the waterholes, one comes on the bed of another creek, with only here and there a gum tree and a few bushes. Up this creek at a distance of three miles nearly north from the three holes, and where the creek emerges from the ranges, is a large hole well shaded by heavy box trees; it contained only a small quantity of water when we passed, but I fancy that in ordinary seasons the water would be permanent. This creek has been much frequented by blacks at one time, but not lately. Hundreds of hawks and a good many crows and magpies were in the trees near the waterhole.

Geographical position.—The geographical position of the three waterholes is by account from Cooper's Creek latitude 26 degrees 34 minutes south, longitude 140 degrees 43 minutes east.

Meteorological remarks.—It would be rather premature for me to offer any opinion on the climate of Cooper's Creek on so short a stay, and my other duties have prevented me from making any observations that would be worth forwarding in detail. I may mention, however, that neither on the creek, nor during the journey up, have we experienced any extreme temperatures: the heat, although considerably greater here than in Melbourne, as shown by a thermometer, is not felt more severely by us. The maximum daily temperatures since our arrival on Cooper's Creek have generally exceeded 100 degrees; the highest of all was registered on November 27th at Camp 63, when the thermometer stood at 109 degrees in the shade. There was at that time a strong wind from the north, which felt rather warm, but had not the peculiar characteristics of a hot wind. One of the most noticeable features in the weather has been the well-marked regularity in the course of the wind, which almost invariably blew lightly from the east or south-east soon after sunrise, went gradually round to north by two o'clock, sometimes blowing fresh from that quarter, followed the sun to west by sunset, and then died away or blew gently from the south throughout the night. A sudden change took place yesterday, December 14th; the day had been unusually hot, temperature of air at one P.M. 106 degrees, at which time cirrocumulus clouds began to cross the sky from north-west, and at two P.M. the wind sprang up in the south-west, blowing with great violence (force 6); it soon shifted to south, increasing in force to (7) and sometimes (8); it continued to blow from the same quarter all night, and has not yet much abated. Once during the night it lulled for about an hour, and then commenced again; it is now (four P.M.) blowing with a force of (5) from south by east, with a clear sky. Before the wind had sprung up the sky had become overcast, and we were threatened with a thunderstorm; rain was evidently falling in the west and north-west, but the sky partially cleared in the evening without our receiving any. Flashes of distant lightning were visible towards the north. During the night, the thunderstorm from the north approached sufficiently near for thunder to be distinctly heard; the flashes of lightning were painfully brilliant, although so far away. The storm passed to the south-east without reaching us; the sky remained overcast until between eight and nine A.M., since when it has been quite clear; the temperature of air, which at sunrise was as low as 72 degrees, has reached a maximum of 92 degrees: it is at present 89 degrees, and that of the surface of the water in the creek 78 degrees. Two other thunderstorms have passed over since we have been on the creek, from only one of which we have received any rain worth mentioning.

Mr. Brahe, who remains here in charge of the depot, and from whom I have received great assistance both in making meteorological observations and in the filling in of feature surveys, will keep a regular meteorological register. I have handed over to him for that purpose an aneroid barometer, Number 21,543, and four thermometers, two for dry and wet bulb observations, and the others for temperature of water, etc.

With regard to hot winds, the direction of the sand-ridges would seem to indicate a prevalence of east and west winds here rather than of northerly.

WILLIAM J. WILLS,

Surveyor and Astronomical Observer.

Cooper's Creek, 15th December, 1860.

. . .

This concludes my son's third report; the first, as far as I can ascertain, was never published. This last was accompanied by many observations taken with the sextant and other instruments, requiring long experience to understand and handle correctly. Brahe, a German, had been instructed by my son in their use, and had made some progress. Notwithstanding his fatal error in leaving the depot contrary to orders, he had, in some respects, superior requisites to either of the others left with him. He was a good traveller, and a better bushman than Wright. Had he been associated with a single companion of nerve and energy, the consequent misfortunes might have been surmounted.

CHAPTER 9.

Departure from Cooper's Creek for the Gulf of Carpentaria. Arrangements for the Continuance of the Depot at Cooper's Creek. Mr. Brahe left in Charge. Determination of Route. Progress and Incidents. Mr. Wills's Field Books, from the 16th of December, 1860, to the 30th of January, 1861, 1 to 9. Shores of Carpentaria.

DURING the halt at Cooper's Creek, it was reported through an Adelaide paper that Mr. McDouall Stuart had returned from his attempt to explore in a north-western direction, and was preparing to start again with Government aid, and no longer confined entirely to the private resources and enterprise of Mr. James Chambers. The Gulf of Carpentaria was not so much the immediate object of Stuart's efforts, as the opening of a commercial avenue with a view to future trade, in a direction more toward the north-west coast, and as far north as the 16 or 18 degrees of southern latitude. This line of exploration appeared preferable to the strong practical mind of Mr. Chambers, who had in view the quid pro quo. Stuart's object was therefore plain business, and the immediate advantage of the colony with which he was connected; whilst the Victorian Expedition included scientific discoveries, and the settlement of a great geographical problem. Stuart is again out, since August, 1861, and doubts are entertained for his safety. Mr. Chambers has died in the interim, and cannot know the result of the work he set afloat with so much spirit. Thus it is in all ages of discovery, that few of the early pioneers live to travel on the roads they open with so much difficulty and endurance.

Mr. Burke and my son, impatient of Wright's delay, and seeing the time slip by that could never return, determined to make a dash for the Gulf while the opportunity still remained to them. I was not aware, until after a communication with Mr. Brahe, on his first visit to Melbourne, subsequent to his desertion of his post at the depot, that my son had strongly advocated a direct course northward; but Mr. Burke hesitated to adopt this, unless he could feel confident in a supply of water; the committee having included something in his instructions as to proceeding north-west towards Eyre's Creek and Sturt's Furthest. In his excursions round the camp and the district of Cooper's Creek, with the all-important question of water in view, my son must have gone over little short of a thousand miles. When he lost his camels he had seen smoke in the direction of north by east, which he believed to be a native fire, but the disaster frustrated his attempts to ascertain the fact. Unable thoroughly to assure his leader on the point of water, the more western course was adopted at the commencement of the journey, for a day or two, after which they turned to the east, and scarcely deviated throughout from the 141st degree of eastern longitude.

The party left Cooper's Creek on the morning of the 16th of December, 1860. It consisted of Mr. Burke, Mr. Wills, King, and Gray, (or Charley as my son calls him in his journal); one horse, and six camels. It appears strange to me that they did not take more horses. As they had been living on horseflesh so much they would have increased their available food, in addition to the facility of carrying burthens.

Mr. Brahe remained at Cooper's Creek depot with Patten, McDonough, Dost Mahomet, an Indian, six camels, and twelve horses. He was left in charge until the arrival of Mr. Wright or some other person duly appointed by the committee to take command of the remainder of the expedition at Menindie. A surveyor also was expected to assist my son, and plenty of work was laid out for all, until Mr. Burke's return, had the authorities known how to employ the proper people and employed them in time.

There can be no doubt that Brahe received MOST POSITIVE ORDERS TO REMAIN AT COOPER'S CREEK UNTIL THE RETURN OF THE EXPLORING PARTY FROM THE GULF OF CARPENTARIA. Three and four months were named as the possible time of absence. Brahe did remain over four months; but even then it was in his power to have waited much longer, and he ought to have done so. But the man was over-weighted; the position was too much for him, and he gave way when a stronger mind might have stood firm. The worst point about him appears to be his want of consistency and miserable prevarication; but this may have been weakness rather than absolute absence of principle, or of any due sense of right or wrong. He was unfit to direct, but he might have been directed. Mr. Burke has been blamed for trusting Brahe; but he was the best of those who remained behind, and there were not many to choose from. King has since told me that it was by my son's advice Brahe was appointed, and that the arrival of the party from Menindie was considered so certain, that the appointment was looked upon only as a temporary affair. It has been also said that King might have been left behind in charge, and Brahe taken on. This arrangement, eligible in some respects, was open to objection in others. Brahe could travel by compass and observation, which King could not; and one so qualified might be wanted for a journey to Menindie.

The details of the journey are given as follows, in my son's Field Books, numbered from 1 to 7 consecutively, transcribed by Dr. Mueller, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Cooper. I was associated with them as a matter of personal delicacy to the memory of the deceased explorer.

MR. WILLS'S JOURNAL.

FIELD BOOK 1.

COOPER'S CREEK TO CARPENTARIA.

[The omissions in this diary are supplied by the information contained in the maps, with the exception of the last two days on the shore of the Gulf.]

Sunday, 16th December, 1860.—The horse having been shod and our reports finished, we started at 6.40 A.M. for Eyre's Creek, the party consisting of Mr. Burke, myself, King, and Charley, having with us six camels, one horse, and three months' provisions. We followed down the creek to the point where the sandstone ranges cross the creek, and were accompanied to that place by Brahe, who would return to take charge of the depot. Down to this point the banks of the creek are very rugged and stony, but there is a tolerable supply of grass and salt bush in the vicinity. A large tribe of blacks came pestering us to go to their camp and have a dance, which we declined. They were very troublesome, and nothing but the threat to shoot them will keep them away. They are, however, easily frightened; and, although fine-looking men, decidedly not of a warlike disposition. They show the greatest inclination to take whatever they can, but will run no unnecessary risk in so doing. They seldom carry any weapon, except a shield and a large kind of boomerang, which I believe they use for killing rats, etc. Sometimes, but very seldom, they have a large spear; reed spears seem to be quite unknown to them. They are undoubtedly a finer and better-looking race of men than the blacks on the Murray and Darling, and more peaceful; but in other respects I believe they will not compare favourably with them, for from the little we have seen of them, they appear to be mean-spirited and contemptible in every respect.

Monday, 17th December, 1860.—We continued to follow down the creek. Found its course very crooked, and the channel frequently dry for a considerable distance, and then forming into magnificent waterholes, abounding in water fowl of all kinds. The country on each side is more open than on the upper part of the creek. The soil on the plains is of a light earthy nature, supporting abundance of salt bush and grass. Most of the plains are lightly timbered, and the ground is finer and not cracked up as at the head of the creek. Left Camp 67 at ten minutes to six A.M., having breakfasted before leaving. We followed the creek along from point to point, at first in a direction west-north-west for about twelve miles, then about north-west. At about noon we passed the last water, a short distance beyond which the creek runs out on a polygonum flat [Footnote: Polygonum Cunninghami.]; but the timber was so large and dense that it deceived us into the belief that there was a continuation of the channel. On crossing the polygonum ground to where we expected to find the creek we became aware of our mistake. Not thinking it advisable to chance the existence of water ahead, we camped at the end of a large but shallow sheet of water in the sandy bed of the creek.

The hole was about 150 links broad, and * [Footnote: Blank in original.] feet deep in most places. In many places the temperature of the water was almost incredibly high, which induced me to try it at several points. The mean of two on the shady side of the creek gave 97 4/10 degrees. As may be imagined this water tasted disagreeably warm, but we soon cooled some in water bags, and thinking that it would be interesting to know what we might call cool, I placed the thermometer in a pannikin containing some that appeared delightfully so, almost cold in fact; its temperature was, to our astonishment, 78 degrees. At half-past six, when a strong wind was blowing from south, and temperature of air had fallen to 80 degrees, the lowest temperature of water in the hose, that had been exposed to the full effect of evaporation for several hours was 72 degrees. This water for drinking appeared positively cold, and is too low a temperature to be pleasant under the circumstances. A remarkable southerly squall came on between five and six P.M., with every appearance of rain. The sky however soon cleared, but the wind continued to blow in a squally and irregular manner from the same quarter at evening.

Wednesday, 19th December, 1860.—Started at a quarter-past eight A. M., leaving what seemed to be the end of Cooper's Creek. We took a course a little to the north of west, intending to try and obtain water in some of the creeks that Sturt mentioned that he had crossed, and at the same time to see whether they were connected with Cooper's Creek, as appeared most probable from the direction in which we found the latter running, and from the manner in which it had been breaking up into small channels, flowing across the plains in a north and north-north-west direction. We left on our right the flooded flats on which this branch of the creek runs out, and soon came to a series of sand ridges, the directions of which were between north half-west and north-north-west. The country is well grassed and supports plenty of salt bush. Many of the valleys are liable to be inundated by the overflow of the main creek. They have watercourses and polygonum flats bordered with box trees, but we met with no holes fit to hold a supply of water. At about ten miles we crossed a large earthy flat lightly timbered with box and gum. The ground was very bad for travelling on, being much cracked up and intersected by innumerable channels, which continually carried off the water of a large creek. Some of the valleys beyond this were very pretty, the ground being sound and covered with fresh plants, which made them look beautifully green. At fifteen miles we halted, where two large plains joined. Our attention had been attracted by some red-breasted cockatoos, pigeons, a crow, and several other birds, whose presence made us feel sure that there was water not far off; but our hopes were soon destroyed by finding a claypan just drying up. It contained just sufficient liquid to make the clay boggy. At ten minutes to seven P.M., we moved on, steering straight for Eyre's Creek, north-west by north, intending to make a good night's journey and avoid the heat of the day; but at a mile and a half we came to a creek which looked so well that we followed it for a short distance, and finding two or three waterholes of good milky water we camped for the night. This enabled me to secure an observation of the eclipse of Jupiter's (I) satellite, as well as some latitude observations. The night was so calm that I used the water as an horizon; but I find it much more satisfactory to take the mercury for several reasons.

Thursday, 20th December.—We did not leave this camp until half-past eight, having delayed to refill the water-bags with the milky water, which all of us found to be a great treat again. It is certainly more pleasant to drink than the clear water, and at the same time more satisfying. Our course from here, north-west by north, took us through some pretty country, lightly timbered and well grassed. We could see the line of creek timber winding through the valley on our left. At a distance of five miles there was a bush fire on its banks, and beyond it the creek made a considerable bend to the south-west. At two miles farther we came in sight of a large lagoon bearing north by west, and at three miles more we camped on what would seem the same creek as last night, near where it enters the lagoon. The latter is of great extent and contains a large quantity of water, which swarms with wild fowl of every description. It is very shallow, but is surrounded by the most pleasing woodland scenery, and everything in the vicinity looks fresh and green. The creek near its junction with the lagoon contains some good waterholes five to six feet deep. They are found in a sandy alluvium which is very boggy when wet. There was a large camp of not less than forty or fifty blacks near where we stopped. They brought us presents of fish, for which we gave them some beads and matches. These fish we found to be a most valuable addition to our rations. They were of the same kind as we had found elsewhere, but finer, being from nine to ten inches long, and two to three inches deep, and in such good condition that they might have been fried in their own fat. It is a remarkable fact, that these were the first blacks who have offered us any fish since we reached Cooper's Creek.

Friday, 21st December.—We left Camp 70 at half-past five A.M., and tried to induce one or two of the blacks to go with us, but it was of no use. Keeping our former course we were pulled up at three miles by a fine lagoon, and then by the creek that flows into it; the latter being full of water, we were obliged to trace it a mile up before we could cross. I observed on its banks two wild plants of the gourd or melon tribe, one much resembling a stunted cucumber: the other, both in leaf and appearance of fruit, was very similar to a small model of a water melon. [Footnote: Probably Muckia micrantha.—F.M.] The latter plant I also found at Camp 68. On tasting the pulp of the newly-found fruit, which was about the size of a large pea, I found it to be so acrid that it was with difficulty that I removed the taste from my mouth. At eight or nine miles from where we crossed the creek we passed another large lagoon, leaving it two miles on our left, and shortly afterwards we saw one nearly as far on our right. This last we should have availed ourselves of, but that we expected to find water in a creek which we could see, by the timber lining its banks, flowed from the lagoon on our left and crossed our course a few miles ahead. We reached it at a distance of four or five miles farther, and found a splendid waterhole at which we camped. The creek at the point flows in a northerly direction through a large lightly timbered flat, on which it partially runs out. The ground is, however, sound and well clothed with grass and salsolaceous plants. Up to this point the country through which we have passed has been of the finest description for pastoral purposes. The grass and saltbush are everywhere abundant, and water is plentiful with every appearance of permanence. We met with porcupine grass, [Footnote: Triodia pungens.—Br.] and only two sand ridges before reaching Camp 71.

FIELD BOOK 2.

CAMP 72 TO 78. LATITUDE 27 TO 25 1/2 DEGREES S.L.

Saturday, 22nd December.—At five minutes to five A.M. we left one of the most delightful camps we have had in the journey, and proceeded on the same course as before, north-west by north, across some high ridges of loose sand, many of which were partially clothed with porcupine grass. We found the ground much worse to travel over than any we have yet met with, as the ridges were exceedingly abrupt and steep on their eastern side, and although sloping gradually towards the west, were so honeycombed in some places by the burrows of rats, that the camels were continually in danger of falling. At a distance of about six miles, we descended from these ridges to undulating country of open box forest, where everything was green and fresh. There is an abundance of grass and salt bushes, and lots of birds of all descriptions. Several flocks of pigeons passed over our heads, making for a point a little to our right, where there is no doubt plenty of water, but we did not go off our course to look for it. Beyond the box forest, which keeps away to the right, we again entered the sand ridges, and at a distance of six miles, passed close to a dry salt lagoon, the ridges in the vicinity of which are less regular in their form and direction, and contain nodules of limestone. The ground in the flats and claypans near, has that encrusted surface that cracks under the pressure of the foot, and is a sure indication of saline deposits. At a distance of eight miles from the lagoon, we camped at the foot of a sand ridge, jutting out on the stony desert. I was rather disappointed, but not altogether surprised, to find the latter nothing more nor less than the stony rises that we had before met with, only on a larger scale and not quite as undulating. During the afternoon several crows came to feed on the plain. They came from an east-north-east direction, no doubt from a portion of the creek that flows through the forest that we left on our right. In the morning, as we were loading, a duck passed over, but it was too dark to see which way it went.

Sunday, 23rd December.—At five A.M. we struck out across the desert in a west-north-west direction. At four and a-half miles we crossed a sand ridge, and then returned to our north-west by north course. We found the ground not nearly as bad for travelling on as that between Bulloo and Cooper's Creek. In fact I do not know whether it arose from our exaggerated anticipation of horrors or not, but we thought it far from bad travelling ground, and as to pasture it is only the actually stony ground that is bare, and many a sheep run is in fact worse grazing ground than that. At fifteen miles we crossed another sand ridge, for several miles round which there is plenty of grass and fine salt bush. After crossing this ridge we descended to an earthy plain, where the ground was rather heavy, being in some places like pieces of slaked lime, and intersected by small watercourses; flocks of pigeons rose from amongst the salt bushes and polygonum; but all the creeks were dry, although marked by lines of box timber. Several gunyahs of the blacks were situated near a waterhole that had apparently contained water very lately, and heaps of grass were lying about the plains, from which they had beaten the seeds. We pushed on, hoping to find the creeks assuming an improved appearance, but they did not, and at one o'clock we halted, intending to travel through part of the night. About sunset, three flocks of pigeons passed over us, all going in the same direction, due north by compass, and passing over a ridge of sand in that direction. Not to have taken notice of such an occurrence would have been little short of a sin, so we determined to go eight or ten miles in that direction. Starting at seven o'clock P.M., we, at six miles, crossed the ridge over which the birds had flown, and came on a flat, subject to inundation. The ground was at first hard and even like the bottom of a claypan, but at a mile or so, we came on cracked earthy ground, intersected by numberless small channels running in all directions. At nine miles we reached the bed of a creek running from east to west: it was only bordered by polygonum bushes, but as there was no timber visible on the plains, we thought it safer to halt until daylight, for fear we should miss the water. At daylight, when we had saddled, a small quantity of timber could be seen at the point of a sand ridge about a mile and a half or two miles to the west of us, and on going there we found a fine creek, with a splendid sheet of water more than a mile long, and averaging nearly three chains broad: it is, however, only two or three feet deep in most parts.

Monday, 24th December, 1860.—We took a day of rest on Gray's Creek to celebrate Christmas. This was doubly pleasant, as we had never, in our most sanguine moments, anticipated finding such a delightful oasis in the desert. Our camp was really an agreeable place, for we had all the advantages of food and water, attending a position of a large creek or river, and were at the same time free from the annoyance of the numberless ants, flies, and mosquitoes that are invariably met with amongst timber or heavy scrub.

Tuesday, 25th December, 1860.—We left Gray's Creek at half-past four A.M. and proceeded to cross the earthy rotten plains in the direction of Eyre's Creek. At a distance of about nine miles we reached some lines of trees and bushes which were visible from the top of the sand ridge at Gray's Creek. We found them growing on the banks of several small creeks which trend to the north and north-north-west; at a mile and a half further we crossed a small creek north-north-east, and joining the ones above mentioned. This creek contained abundance of water in small detached holes from fifty to a hundred links long, well shaded by steep banks and overhanging bushes. The water had a suspiciously transparent colour and a slight trace of brackishness, but the latter was scarcely perceptible. Near where the creek joined the holes is a sandhill and a dense mass of fine timber. The smoke of a fire indicated the presence of blacks, who soon made their appearance and followed us for some distance, beckoning us away to the north-east. We however continued our course north-west by north, but at a distance of one mile and a half found that the creek did not come round as we expected, and that the fall of the water was in a direction nearly opposite to our course, or about west to east. We struck off north half west for a high sand ridge, from which we anticipated seeing whether it were worth while for us to follow the course of the creeks we had crossed. We were surprised to find all the watercourses on the plains trending rather to the south of east, and at a distance of three miles, after changing our course, and when we approached the sandhills towards which we had been steering, we were agreeably pulled up by a magnificent creek coming from the north-north-west, and running in the direction of the fire we had seen. We had now no choice but to change our course again, for we could not have crossed even if we had desired to do so. On following up the south bank of the creek we found it soon keeping a more northerly course than it had where we first struck it. This fact, together with its magnitude and general appearance, lessened the probability of its being Eyre's Creek, as seemed at first very likely from their relative positions and directions. The day being very hot and the camels tired from travelling over the earthy plains, which by-the-by are not nearly so bad as those at the head of Cooper's Creek, we camped at one P.M., having traced the creek up about five miles, not counting the bends. For the whole of this distance we found not a break or interruption of water, which appears to be very deep; the banks are from twenty to thirty feet above the water, and very steep; they are clothed near the water's edge with mint and other weeds, and on the top of each side there is a belt of box trees and various shrubs. The lower part of the creek is bounded towards the north by a high red sand ridge, and on the south side is an extensive plain, intersected by numerous watercourses, which drain off the water in flood-time. The greater portion of the plain is at present very bare, but the stalks of dry grass show that after rain or floods there will be a good crop on the harder and well drained portion; but I believe the loose earthy portion supports no vegetation at any time. The inclination of the ground from the edge of the creek-bank towards the plain is in many places very considerable; this I should take to indicate that the flooding is or has been at one time both frequent and regular.

Wednesday, 26th December, 1860.—We started at five A.M., following up the creek from point to point of the bends. Its general course was at first north-by-west, but at about six miles, the sand ridge on the west closed in on it, and at this point it takes a turn to the north-north-east for half a mile, and then comes around suddenly north-west. Up to this point it had been rather improving in appearance than otherwise, but in the bend to the north-west the channel is very broad. Its bed being limestone rock and indurated clay, is for a space of five or six chains quite dry; then commences another waterhole, the creek keeping a little more towards north. We crossed the creek here and struck across the plain in a due north course, for we could see the line of timber coming up to the sand ridges in that direction. For from seven to eight miles we did not touch the creek, and the eastern sand ridge seceded to a distance, in some places of nearly three miles, from our line, leaving an immense extent of grassy plain between it and the creek. The distinctly marked feature on the lower part of this creek is that whenever the main creek is on one side of a plain, there is always a fine billibong on the opposite side, each of them almost invariably sticking close to the respective sand ridges. Before coming to the next bend of the creek a view from the top of a sandhill showed me that the creek received a large tributary from the north-west at about two miles above where we had crossed it. A fine line of timber, running up to the north-west, joined an extensive tract of box forest, and the branch we were following was lost to view in a similar forest towards the north. The sand ridge was so abrupt when we came to the creek, that it was necessary to descend into its bed through one of the small ravines adjoining it. We found it partially run out, the bed being sand and strewed with nodules of lime, some of which were from one half to two feet long: they had apparently been formed in the sanddowns by infiltration.

FIELD BOOK 3.

CAMPS 78 TO 85.* LATITUDE SOUTH 25 1/2 TO 23 3/4 DEGREES. [* Footnote: This Field Book was mostly occupied by notes of astronomical observations, and surveyor's notes for mapping.]

Sunday, 30th December, 1860.—Finding that the creek was trending considerably towards the east without much likelihood of altering its course, we struck off from it, taking a ten days' supply of water, as there were ranges visible to the north, which had the appearance of being stony. A north-east by north course was first taken for about seven miles in order to avoid them. The whole of this distance was over alluvial earthy plains, the soil of which was firm, but the vegetation scanty.

FIELD BOOK 4.

CAMPS 85 TO 90. LATITUDE 23 3/4 TO 22 1/4 DEGREES.

(Fine Country, Tropics.)

Saturday, 5th January, 1861.—On leaving Camp 84, we found slight but distinct indications of rain in the groves, and a few blades of grass and small weeds in the little depressions on the plain: these indications were, however, so slight, that, but for the fact of our having found surface-water in two holes near our camp, we should hardly have noticed them. At a distance of about two miles in a north-north-easterly direction, we came to a creek with a long broad shallow waterhole. The well-worn paths, the recent tracks of natives, and the heaps of shells, on the contents of which the latter had feasted, showed at once that this creek must be connected with some creek of considerable importance. The camels and horses being greatly in need of rest, we only moved up about half a mile, and camped for the day.

Sunday, 6th January, 1861.—Started at twenty minutes to six o'clock, intending to make an easy day's stage along the creek. As we proceeded up in a northerly direction, we found the waterhole to diminish in size very much, and at about two and a half miles the creek ran out in a lot of small watercourses. At the upper end of the creek we found in its bed what appeared to be an arrangement for catching fish: it consisted of a small oval mud paddock about twelve feet by eight feet, the sides of which were about nine inches above the bottom of the hole, and the top of the fence covered with long grass, so arranged that the ends of the blades overhung scantily by several inches the sides of the hole. As there was no sign of timber to the north, we struck off to north-west by north for a fine line that came up from south-west, and seemed to run parallel with the creek we were about to leave. At a distance of about three miles, we reached the bank of a fine creek containing a sheet of water two chains broad, and at least fifteen feet deep in the middle. The banks are shelving, sandy, and lightly clothed with box trees and various shrubs. On starting to cross the plains towards this creek we were surprised at the bright green appearance of strips of land, which look in the distance like swamps. On approaching some of them, we found that there had been a considerable fall of rain in some places, which had raised a fine crop of grass and portulac [Footnote: Portulaca oleracea. L.] wherever the soil was of a sandy and light nature; but the amount of moisture had been insufficient to affect the hard clayey ground which constitutes the main portion of the plain. The sight of two native companions feeding here, added greatly to the encouraging prospects; they are the only specimens of that bird that I remember to have seen on that side of the Darling.

7th January, 1861.—We started at half-past four A.M. without water, thinking that we might safely rely on this creek for one day's journey. We, however, found the line of timber soon began to look small; at three miles the channel contained only a few pools of surface water. We continued across the plains on a due north course, frequently crossing small watercourses, which had been filled by the rain, but were fast drying up. Here and there, as we proceeded, dense lines of timber on our right showed that the creek came from the east of north; at a distance of thirteen miles we turned to the north-north-east towards a fine line of timber. We found a creek of considerable dimensions, that had only two or three small water-holes, but as there was more than sufficient for us, and very little feed for the beasts anywhere else, we camped. I should have liked this camp to have been in a more prominent and easily recognizable position, as it happens to be almost exactly on the tropic of Capricorn. The tremendous gale of wind that we had in the evening and night prevented me from taking a latitude observation, whereas I had some good ones at the last camp and at Camp 87. My reckoning cannot be far out. I found, on taking out my instruments, that one of the spare thermometers was broken, and the glass of my aneroid barometer cracked; the latter I believe not otherwise injured. This was done by the camel having taken it into his head to roll while the pack was on his back.

Tuesday, 8th January, 1861.—Started at a quarter past five A.M. with a load of water, determined to be independent of all creeks and watercourses. At a mile and a half, found surface water in a small creek, and at a mile farther, water in two or three places on the open plains. The country we crossed for the first ten miles consists of fine open plains of firm argillaceous soils, too stiff and hard to be affected by the small quantity of rain that has fallen as yet. They are subject to inundations from the overflow of a number of small creeks, which intersect them in a direction east-north-east to west-south-west. Nearly all the creeks are lined with box trees and shrubs in a tolerably healthy state; of the remains of dead trees there is only a fair proportion to the living ones. After traversing a plain of greater extent than the rest, we, at ten miles, reached the creek, proportionately large and important looking. The channel, however, at the point where we struck it, was deep, level, and dry; but I believe there is water in it not far off, for there were some red-breasted cockatoos in the trees, and native parrots on each side. On the north side there is a part bearing off to the north-north-west. The mirage on the plain to the south of the creek was stronger than I have before seen it. There appear to be sheets of water within a few yards of one, and it looks sufficiently smooth and glassy to be used for an artificial horizon. To the westward of the plains, some fine sandhills were visible, nearly in the direction in which the creek flowed. To the north of the creek the country undergoes a great change. At first there is a little earthy land subject to inundation. The soil then becomes more sandy, with stony pans in which water collects after rain; the whole country is slightly undulating, lightly timbered, and splendidly grassed. A number of small disconnected creeks are scattered about, many of which contained water protected from the sun and wind by luxuriant growth of fine grasses and small bushes. We passed one or two little rises of sand and pebbles, on which were growing some trees quite new to me; but for the seed pods I should have taken them for a species of Casuarina, although the leaf-stalks have not the jointed peculiarities of those plants. The trunks and branches are like the she oak, the leaves like those of a pine; they droop like a willow, and the seed is small, flat, in a large flat pod, about six inches by three-quarters of an inch. As we proceeded, the country improved at every step. Flocks of pigeons rose and flew off to the eastward, and fresh plants met our view on every rise; everything green and luxuriant. The horse licked his lips, and tried all he could to break his nose-string in order to get at the food. We camped at the foot of a sandy rise, where there was a large stony pan with plenty of water, and where the feed was equal in quality, and superior as to variety, to any that I have seen in Australia, excepting perhaps on some soils of volcanic origin.

Wednesday, 9th January, 1861.—Started at five minutes past five, without water, trusting to get a supply of water from the rain that fell during the thunderstorm. Traversed six miles of undulating plains covered with vegetation richer than ever. Several ducks rose from the little creeks as we passed, and flocks of pigeons were flying in all directions. The richness of the vegetation is evidently not suddenly arising from chance thunderstorms, for the trees and bushes on the open plain are everywhere healthy and fresh looking; very few dead ones are to be seen; besides which, the quantity of dead and rotten grass which at present almost overpowers in some places the young blades shows that this is not the first crop of the kind. The grasses are numerous and many of them unknown to me, but they only constitute a moderate portion of the herbage. Several kinds of spurious vetches and portulac, as well as salsolaceae, add to the luxuriance of the vegetation. At seven miles we found ourselves in an open forest country, where the feed was good, but not equal to what we had passed, neither had it been visited by yesterday's rain. We soon emerged again on open plains, but the soil being of a more clayish nature, they were not nearly so much advanced in vegetation as the others. We found surface water in several places, and at one spot disturbed a fine bustard which was feeding in the long grass; we did not see him until he flew up. I should have mentioned that one flew over our camp last evening in a northerly direction; this speaks well for the country and climate. At noon we came to a large creek the course of which was from east-north-east to west-south-west; the sight of the white gum trees in the distance had raised hopes, which were not at all damped on a close inspection of the channel. At the point where we struck it there was certainly no great quantity of water; the bed was broad and sandy, but its whole appearance was that of an important watercourse, and the large gums which line its banks, together with the improved appearance of the soil, and the abundance of feed in the vicinity, satisfied us as to the permanency of the water and the value of the discovery. Although it was so early in the day, and we were anxious to make a good march, yet we camped here, as it seemed to be almost a sin to leave such good quarters. The bed of the creek is loose sand, through which the water freely permeates; it is, however, sufficiently coarse not to be boggy, and animals can approach the water without any difficulty.

Thursday, 10th January, 1861.—At twenty minutes past five A.M., we left our camp with a full supply of water, determined to risk no reverses, and to make a good march. I should mention that last evening we had been nearly deafened by the noise of the cicadariae, and but for our large fires should have been kept awake all night by the mosquitoes. A walk of two miles across a well grassed plain brought us to a belt of timber, and we soon afterwards found ourselves pulled up by a large creek in which the water was broad and deep; we had to follow up the bank of the creek in a north-easterly direction for nearly a mile before we could cross, when to our joy we found that it was flowing; not a muddy stream from the effects of recent floods, but a small rivulet of pure water as clear as crystal. The bed of the river at this place is deep and rather narrow; the water flows over sand and pebbles, winding its way between clumps of melalema, and gum saplings. After leaving the river, we kept our old course due north, crossing, at a distance of one mile, three creeks with gum trees on their banks. The soil of the flats through which they flow is a red loam of fair quality and well grassed. Beyond the third creek is a large plain, parts of which are very stony, and this is bounded towards the east by a low stony rise, partly composed of decayed and honeycombed quartz rock in situ, and partly of waterworn pebbles and other alluvial deposits. At about two miles across this plain, we reached the first of a series of small creeks with deep waterholes: these creeks and holes have the characteristics peculiar to watercourses which are found in flats formed from the alluvial deposits of schistose rocks. The banks are on a level with the surrounding ground, and are irregularly marked by small trees, or only by tufts of long grass which overhang the channel and frequently hide it from one's view, even when within a few yards. At about five miles from where we crossed the river, we came to the main creek in these flats, Patten's Creek; it flows along at the foot of a stony range, and we had to trace it up nearly a mile in a north-north-easterly direction before we could cross it; as it happened, we might almost as well have followed its course up the flat, for at a little more than two miles we came to it again. We re-crossed it at a stony place just below a very large waterhole, and then continued our course over extensive plains, not so well grassed as those we had passed before, and very stony in some places. At eight miles from Patten's Creek, we came to another, running from south-west to south-east: there was plenty of water in it, but it was evidently the result of recent local rains. On the banks was an abundance of good feed but very little timber.

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