Successful Exploration Through the Interior of Australia
by William John Wills
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Friday, 11th January, 1861.—We started at five A.M., and in the excitement of exploring fine well-watered country, forgot all about the eclipse of the sun until the reduced temperature and peculiarly gloomy appearance of the sky drew our attention to the matter; it was then too late to remedy the deficiency, so we made a good day's journey, the moderation of the midday heat, which was only about 86 degrees, greatly assisting us. The country traversed has the most verdant and cheerful aspect; abundance of feed and water everywhere. All the creeks seen to-day have a course more or less to the east by south. The land improves in appearance at every mile. A quantity of rain has fallen here and to the south, and some of the flats are suitable for cultivation, if the regularity of the seasons will admit.


CAMPS 92 TO 95. LATITUDE 22 1/4 TO 21 1/4 DEGREES.

(Standish Ranges.)

Saturday, 12th January, 1861.—We started at five A.M., and, keeping as nearly as possible a due north course, traversed for about eight miles a splendid flat, through which flow several fine well-watered creeks, lined with white gum trees. We then entered a series of slaty, low, sandstone ranges, amongst which were some well-grassed flats, and plenty of water in the main gullies. The more stony portions are, however, covered with porcupine grass, and here and there with mallee; large ant-hills are very numerous; they vary in height from two and a half to four feet. There was a continuous rise perceptible all the way in crossing the ranges, and from the highest portion, which we reached at a distance of about seven miles, we had a pretty good view of the country towards the north. As far as we could see in the distance, and bearing due north, was a large range, having somewhat the outline of a granite mountain. The east end of this range just comes up to the magnetic north; on the left of this, and bearing north-north-west, is a single conical peak, the top of which only is visible. Further to the west there were some broken ranges, apparently sandstone; to the east of north the tops of very distant and apparently higher ranges were seen, the outline of which was so indistinct that I can form no idea as to their character; the intermediate country below us appeared alternations of fine valleys and stony ranges, such as we had just been crossing. From here a descent of two miles brought us to a creek having a northern course, but on tracing it down for about a mile, we found it to turn to the south-east and join another from the north. We crossed over to the latter on a north-by-west course, and camped on the west bank. It has a broad sandy channel; the waterholes are large, but not deep; the banks are bordered with fine white gums, and are in some places very scrubby. There is abundance of rich green feed everywhere in the vicinity. We found here numerous indications of blacks having been here, but saw nothing of them. It seems remarkable that where their tracks are so plentiful, we should have seen none since we left King's Creek. I observed that the natives here climb trees as those on the Murray do, in search of some animal corresponding in habits to the opossum, which they get out of the hollow branches in a similar manner. I have not yet been able to ascertain what the animal is.

Sunday, 13th January, 1861.—We did not leave camp this morning until half-past seven, having delayed for the purpose of getting the camels' shoes on—a matter in which we were eminently unsuccessful. We took our breakfast before starting, for almost the first time since leaving the depot. Having crossed the creek, our course was due north as before, until, at about six miles, we came in sight of the range ahead, when we took a north-half-east direction for the purpose of clearing the eastern front of it. We found the ground more sandy than what we had before crossed, and a great deal of it even more richly grassed. Camp 93 is situate at the junction of three sandy creeks, in which there is abundance of water. The sand is loose, and the water permeates freely, so that the latter may be obtained delightfully cool and clear by sinking anywhere in the beds of the creeks.


CAMPS 98 TO 105. LATITUDE 21 1/4 TO 20 1/4 DEGREES.

(Upper part of Cloncurry.)

Saturday, 19th January, 1861.—Started from Camp 98 at 5.30 A.M., and passing to the north-west of Mount Forbes, across a fine and well-grassed plain, kept at first a north-by-east direction. At a distance of three miles, the plain became everywhere stony, being scattered over with quartz pebbles; and a little further on we came to low quartz ranges, the higher portions of which are covered with porcupine grass, but the valleys are well clothed with a variety of coarse and rank herbage. At about five miles we crossed a creek with a sandy bed, which has been named Green's Creek; there were blacks not far above where we crossed, but we did not disturb them. After crossing the creek, we took a due north course over very rugged quartz ranges of an auriferous character. Pieces of iron ore, very rich, were scattered in great numbers over some of the hills. On our being about to cross one of the branch creeks in the low range, we surprised some blacks—a man who, with a young fellow apparently his son, was upon a tree, cutting out something; and a lubra with a piccaninny. The two former did not see me until I was nearly close to them, and then they were dreadfully frightened; jumping down from the trees, they started off, shouting what sounded to us very like "Joe, Joe." Thus disturbed, the lubra, who was at some distance from them, just then caught sight of the camels and the remainder of the party as they came over the hill into the creek, and this tended to hasten their flight over the stones and porcupine grass. Crossing the range at the head of this creek, we came on a gully running north, down which we proceeded, and soon found it open out into a creek, at two or three points in which we found water. On this creek we found the first specimen of an eucalyptus, which has a very different appearance from the members of the gum-tree race. It grows as high as a good-sized gum tree, but with the branches less spreading: in shape it much resembles the elm; the foliage is dark, like that of the light wood; the trunk and branches are covered with a grey bark resembling in outward appearance that of the box tree. Finding that the creek was trending too much to the eastward, we struck off to the north again, and at a short distance came on a fine creek running about south-south-east. As it was now nearly time to camp, we travelled it up for about one and a-half mile, and came to a fine waterhole in a rocky basin, at which there were lots of birds.


CAMPS 105 TO 112. LATITUDE 20 1/4 TO 19 1/4 DEGREES.

(Middle part of Cloncurry.)

Sunday, 27th January, 1861.—Started from Camp 105 at five minutes past two in the morning. We followed along the bends of the creek by moonlight, and found the creek wind about very much, taking on the whole a north-east course. At about five miles it changed somewhat its features; from a broad and sandy channel, winding about through gum-tree flats, it assumes the unpropitious appearance of a straight, narrow creek, running in a north-north-east direction between high, perpendicular, earthy banks. After running between three or four miles in this manner, it took a turn to the west, at which point there is a fine waterhole, and then assumed its original character. Below this we found water at several places, but it all seemed to be either from surface drainage or from springs in the sand. The land in the vicinity of the creek appears to have received plenty of rain, the vegetation everywhere green and fresh; but there is no appearance of the creek having flowed in this part of the channel for a considerable period. Palm trees are numerous, and some bear an abundance of small, round dates (nuts) just ripening. These palms give a most picturesque and pleasant appearance to the creek.

Wednesday, 30th January, 1861.—Started at half-past seven A.M., after several unsuccessful attempts at getting Golah out of the bed of the creek. It was determined to try bringing him down until we could find a place for him to get out at; but after going in this way two or three miles it was found necessary to leave him behind, as it was almost impossible to get him through some of the waterholes, and had separated King from the party, which became a matter for very serious consideration when we found blacks hiding in the box trees close to us.

. . .

Having reached the point indicated by the last date and passage in" Field Book 7," Mr. Burke and my son determined to leave Gray and King there in charge of the camels, and to proceed onwards to the shores of Carpentaria, themselves on foot and leading the horse. The river or creek down which they passed is named in the journal the Cloncurry. The channel making a sudden turn, my son remarked that it might be a new river. "If it should prove so," said Mr. Burke, "we will call it after my old friend Lord Cloncurry."

With reference to this locality, marked in the map as Camp 119, King was asked in his examination before the Royal Commissioners:

Question 815. Was the water salt?—Quite salt.

816. Who first made the discovery of reaching the sea, or did you all come upon it together; that is, reaching the salt water where the tide was?—Mr. Wills knew it; he had told us two or three days before we reached the salt water that we were in the country that had been discovered by Mr. Gregory and other previous explorers.

817. Some days before you got upon it he told you that?—Yes, and showed us on the chart the supposed place where Mr. Gregory crossed this small creek.

It will be seen by these answers of King, that Mr. Burke assumed no topographical knowledge of the position. The Melbourne Argus stated and repeated that he had mistaken the Flinders for the Albert. Now the river in question was never mentioned as either, and the mistake, if made, was Mr. Wills's and not Mr. Burke's. This portion of the map was said to have been lost on the morning of its arrival in Melbourne; and this I can readily believe, as also that more might have met with the same fate had I not fortunately been there.

. . .



Lower part of Cloncurry.

. . .


Returning from Carpentaria to Cooper's Creek.

Sunday, February, 1861.—Finding the ground in such a state from the heavy falls of rain, that camels could scarcely be got along, it was decided to leave them at Camp 119, and for Mr. Burke and I to proceed towards the sea on foot. After breakfast we accordingly started, taking with us the horse and three days' provisions. Our first difficulty was in crossing Billy's Creek, which we had to do where it enters the river, a few hundred yards below the camp. In getting the horse in here, he got bogged in a quicksand bank so deeply as to be unable to stir, and we only succeeded in extricating him by undermining him on the creek's side, and then lugging him into the water. Having got all the things in safety, we continued down the river bank, which bent about from east to west, but kept a general north course. A great deal of the land was so soft and rotten that the horse, with only a saddle and about twenty-five pounds on his back, could scarcely walk over it. At a distance of about five miles we again had him bogged in crossing a small creek, after which he seemed so weak that we had great doubts about getting him on. We, however, found some better ground close to the water's edge, where the sandstone rock crops out, and we stuck to it as far as possible. Finding that the river was bending about so much that we were making very little progress in a northerly direction, we struck off due north and soon came on some table-land, where the soil is shallow and gravelly, and clothed with box and swamp gums. Patches of the land were very boggy, but the main portion was sound enough; beyond this we came on an open plain, covered with water up to one's ankles. The soil here was a stiff clay, and the surface very uneven, so that between the tufts of grass one was frequently knee deep in water. The bottom, however, was sound and no fear of bogging. After floundering through this for several miles, we came to a path formed by the blacks, and there were distinct signs of a recent migration in a southerly direction. By making use of this path we got on much better, for the ground was well trodden and hard. At rather more than a mile, the path entered a forest through which flowed a nice watercourse, and we had not gone far before we found places where the blacks had been camping. The forest was intersected by little pebbly rises, on which they had made their fires, and in the sandy ground adjoining some of the former had been digging yams, which seemed to be so numerous that they could afford to leave lots of them about, probably having only selected the very best. We were not so particular, but ate many of those that they had rejected, and found them very good. About half a mile further, we came close on a black fellow, who was coiling up by a camp fire, whilst his gin and piccaninny were yabbering alongside. We stopped for a short time to take out some of the pistols that were on the horse, and that they might see us before we were so near as to frighten them. Just after we stopped, the black got up to stretch his limbs, and after a few seconds looked in our direction. It was very amusing to see the way in which he stared, standing for some time as if he thought he must be dreaming, and then, having signalled to the others, they dropped on their haunches, and shuffled off in the quietest manner possible. Near their fire was a fine hut, the best I have ever seen, built on the same principle as those at Cooper's Creek, but much larger and more complete: I should say a dozen blacks might comfortably coil in it together. It is situated at the end of the forest towards the north, and looks out on an extensive marsh, which is at times flooded by the sea water. Hundreds of wild geese, plover and pelicans, were enjoying themselves in the watercourses on the marsh, all the water on which was too brackish to be drinkable, except some holes that are filled by the stream that flows through the forest. The neighbourhood of this encampment is one of the prettiest we have seen during the journey. Proceeding on our course across the marsh, we came to a channel through which the sea water enters. Here we passed three blacks, who, as is universally their custom, pointed out to us, unasked, the best part down. This assisted us greatly, for the ground we were taking was very boggy. We moved slowly down about three miles and then camped for the night; the horse Billy being completely baked. Next morning we started at daybreak, leaving the horse short hobbled.

Memo.—Verbally transcribed from the Field Books of the late Mr. Wills. Very few words, casually omitted in the author's manuscripts, have been added in brackets. A few botanical explanations have been appended. A few separate general remarks referring to this portion of the diary will be published, together with the meteorological notes to which they are contiguous. No other notes in reference to this portion of the journey are extant.

5/11/61 FERD. MUELLER.

. . .

It will be observed in following these Field Books that there are occasional intervals and omissions, which I account for thus: —My son's first entries, in pencil, are more in the form of notes, with observations, and figures to guide him in mapping; because, when his maps are accurate and attended to, his journal is imperfect, and vice versa. Besides, there can be no doubt that Mr. Burke kept a journal, though perhaps not a complete one, and of which a very small portion has come to hand. In it he mentions a difficult pass they went through on the route to Carpentaria, of which my son does not speak. King confirms Mr. Burke's statement, and says my son knew he had written it, which was the reason why he did not himself repeat the same passage.

The Royal Commissioners in their Report said:

"It does not appear that Mr. Burke kept any regular journal, or that he gave written instructions to his officers. Had he performed these essential portions of the duties of a leader, many of the calamities of the Expedition might have been averted, and little or no room would have been left for doubt in judging the conduct of those subordinates who pleaded unsatisfactory and contradictory verbal orders and statements."

With all due submission and humility, I think this opinion too conclusive, and formed on unsatisfactory evidence, as any statement must be considered, proceeding from one who destroyed his own credit by self-contradiction to the extent that Mr. Brahe did. He admitted, on his examination, that he had burnt some of Mr. Burke's papers at Mr. Burke's own request. How then is it possible to determine what he may otherwise have burnt or placed out of the way? In fact, what written instructions, if any, he did or not receive, and what he did with them?


Return from Carpentaria to Cooper's Creek. Mr. Wills's Journals from February 19th to April 21st, 1861. Illness and Death of Gray. The Survivors arrive at Cooper's Creek Depot and find it deserted. A Small Stock of Provisions left. Conduct of Brahe. Report of the Royal Commission.

MR. BURKE and Mr. Wills having accomplished the grand object of the Expedition by reaching the Gulf of Carpentaria, rejoined Gray and King at Camp 119, where they had left them with the camels. On the 13th of February the party turned their faces to the south, and commenced their long and toilsome march in return. The entries in my son's journals were transcribed as follows:—

Tuesday, 19th February, 1861.—Boocha's Camp.

Wednesday, 20th February, 1861.—Pleasant Camp; 5R.

Thursday, 21st February, 1861.—Recovery Camp; 6R. Between four and five o'clock a heavy thunderstorm broke over us, having given very little warning of its approach. There had been lightning and thunder towards south-east and south ever since noon yesterday. The rain was incessant and very heavy for an hour and a half, which made the ground so boggy that the animals could scarcely walk over it; we nevertheless started at ten minutes to seven A.M., and after floundering along for half an hour halted for breakfast. We then moved on again, but soon found that the travelling was too heavy for the camels, so camped for the remainder of the day. In the afternoon the sky cleared a little, and the sun soon dried the ground, considering. Shot a pheasant, and much disappointed at finding him all feathers and claws. This bird nearly resembles a cock pheasant in plumage, but in other respects it bears more the character of the magpie or crow; the feathers are remarkably wiry and coarse.

Friday, 22nd February, 1861.—Camp 7R. A fearful thunderstorm in the evening, about eight P.M., from east-south-east, moving gradually round to south. The flashes of lightning were so vivid and incessant as to keep up a continual light for short intervals, overpowering the moonlight. Heavy rain and strong squalls continued for more than an hour, when the storm moved off west-north-west. The sky remained more or less overcast for the rest of the night, and the following morning was both sultry and oppressive, with the ground so boggy as to be almost impassable.

Saturday, 23rd February, 1861.—Camp 8R. In spite of the difficulties thrown in our way by last night's storm, we crossed the creek, but were shortly afterwards compelled to halt for the day on a small patch of comparatively dry ground, near the river. The day turned out very fine, so that the soil dried rapidly, and we started in the evening to try a trip by moonlight. We were very fortunate in finding sound ground along a billibong, which permitted of our travelling for about five miles up the creek, when we camped for the night. The evening was most oppressively hot and sultry, so much so that the slightest exertion made one feel as if he were in a state of suffocation. The dampness of the atmosphere prevented any evaporation, and gave one a helpless feeling of lassitude that I have never before experienced to such an extent. All the party complained of the same symptoms, and the horses showed distinctly the effect of the evening trip, short as it was. We had scarcely turned in half an hour when it began to rain, some heavy clouds having come up from the eastward in place of the layer of small cirrocumulus that before ornamented the greater portion of the sky. These clouds soon moved on, and we were relieved from the dread of additional mud. After the sky cleared, the atmosphere became rather cooler and less sultry, so that, with the assistance of a little smoke to keep the mosquitoes off, we managed to pass a tolerable night.

Sunday, 24th February, 1861.—Camp 9R. Comparatively little rain has fallen above the branch creek with the running water. The vegetation, although tolerably fresh, is not so rank as that we have left; the water in the creek is muddy, but good, and has been derived merely from the surface drainage of the adjoining plains. The Melaleneus continues on this branch creek, which creeps along at the foot of the ranges.

Monday, 25th February, 1861.—Camp 10R. There has been very little rain on this portion of the creek since we passed down; there was, however, no water at all then at the pans. At the Tea-tree spring, a short distance up the creek, we found plenty of water in the sand, but it had a disagreeable taste, from the decomposition of leaves and the presence of mineral matter, probably iron. There seems to have been a fair share of rain along here, everything is so very fresh and green, and there is water in many of the channels we have crossed.

Tuesday, 26th February, 1861.—Apple-tree Camp; 11R.

Thursday, 28th February, 1861.—Reedy Gully Camp; 12R. Came into the Reedy Gully Camp about midnight on Tuesday, the 26th; remained there throughout the day on Wednesday; starting at two A.M. on Thursday.

Friday, 1st March, 1861.—Camp of the Three Crows; 13R.

Saturday, 2nd March, 1861.—Salt-bush Camp; 14R. Found Golah. He looks thin and miserable; seems to have fretted a great deal, probably at finding himself left behind, and he has been walking up and down our tracks till he has made a regular pathway; could find no sign of his having been far off, although there is a splendid feed to which he could have gone. He began to eat as soon as he saw the other camels.

Sunday, 3rd March, 1861.—Eureka Camp; 15R. In crossing a creek by moonlight, Charley rode over a large snake; he did not touch him, and we thought that it was a log until he struck it with the stirrup iron; we then saw that it was an immense snake, larger than any I have ever before seen in a wild state. It measured eight feet four inches in length and seven inches in girth round the belly; it was nearly the same thickness from the head to within twenty inches of the tail; it then tapered rapidly. The weight was 11 1/2 pounds. From the tip of the nose to five inches back, the neck was black, both above and below; throughout the rest of the body, the under part was yellow, and the sides and back had irregular brown transverse bars on a yellowish brown ground. I could detect no poisonous fangs, but there were two distinct rows of teeth in each jaw, and two small claws of nails, about three-eighths of an inch long, one on each side of the vent.

Monday, 4th March, 1861.—Feasting Camp; 16R. Shortly after arriving at Camp 16 we could frequently hear distant thunder towards the east, from which quarter the wind was blowing. During the afternoon there were frequent heavy showers, and towards evening it set in to rain steadily but lightly; this lasted till about eight P.M., when the rain ceased and the wind got round to west; the sky, however, remained overcast until late in the night, and then cleared for a short time; the clouds were soon succeeded by a dense fog or mist, which continued until morning. The vapour having then risen, occupied the upper air in the form of light cirrostratus and cumulus clouds.

Tuesday, 5th March, 1861.—Camp 17R. Started at two A.M. on a south-south-westerly course, but had soon to turn in on the creek, as Mr. Burke felt very unwell, having been attacked by dysentery since eating the snake; he now felt giddy and unable to keep his seat. At six A.M., Mr. Burke feeling better, we started again, following along the creek, in which there was considerably more water than when we passed down. We camped, at 2.15 P.M., at a part of the creek where the date trees [Footnote: Probably Livistonas.] were very numerous, and found the fruit nearly ripe and very much improved on what it was when we were here before.

Wednesday, 6th March, 1861.—Camp 18R. Arrived at our former camp, and found the feed richer than ever, and the ants just as troublesome. Mr. Burke is a little better, and Charley looks comparatively well. The dryness of the atmosphere seems to have a beneficial effect on all. We found yesterday, that it was a hopeless matter about Golah, and we were obliged to leave him behind, as he seemed to be completely done up and could not come on, even when the pack and saddle were taken off.

Thursday, 7th March, 1861.—Fig-tree Camp; 19R; Palm-tree Camp, 104, and 20 degrees Latitude, by observation, coming down, 20 degrees 21 minutes 40 seconds. There is less water here than there was when we passed down, although there is evidence of the creek having been visited by considerable floods during the interval. Feed is abundant, and the vegetation more fresh than before. Mr. Burke almost recovered, but Charley is again very unwell and unfit to do anything; he caught cold last night through carelessness in covering himself.

Friday, 8th March, 1861.—Camp 20R. Followed the creek more closely coming up than going down. Found more water in it generally.

Saturday, 9th March, 1861.—Camp 21R. Reached our former camp at 1. 30 P.M. Found the herbage much dried up, but still plenty of feed for the camels.

Sunday, 10th March, 1861.—Camp 22R. Camped at the junction of a small creek from the westward, a short distance below our former camp, there being plenty of good water here, whereas the supply at Specimen Camp is very doubtful.

Monday, 11th March, 1861.—Camp 23R. Halted for breakfast at the Specimen Camp at 7.15 A.M., found more water and feed there than before; then proceeded up the creek and got safely over the most dangerous part of our journey. Camped near the head of the Gap in a flat, about two miles below our former camp at the Gap.

Tuesday, 12th March, 1861.—Camp 24R.

Wednesday, 13th March, 1861.—Camp 25R. Rain all day, so heavily that I was obliged to put my watch and field book in the pack to keep them dry. In the afternoon the rain increased, and all the creeks became flooded. We took shelter under some fallen rocks, near which was some feed for the camels; but the latter was of no value, for we had soon to remove them up amongst the rocks, out of the way of the flood, which fortunately did not rise high enough to drive us out of the cave; but we were obliged to shift our packs to the upper part. In the evening the water fell as rapidly as it had risen, leaving everything in a very boggy state. There were frequent light showers during the night.

Thursday, 14th March, 1861.—Camp 26R; Sandstone cave. The water in the creek having fallen sufficiently low, we crossed over from the cave and proceeded down the creek. Our progress was slow, as it was necessary to keep on the stony ridge instead of following the flats, the latter being very boggy after the rain. Thinking that this creek must join Scratchley's, near our old camp, we followed it a long way, until finding it trend altogether too much eastward, we tried to shape across for the other creek, but were unable to do so, from the boggy nature of the intervening plain.

Friday, 15th March, 1861.—Camp 27R.

Saturday, 16th March, 1861.—Camp 28R. Scratchley's Creek.

Sunday, 17th March, 1861.—Camp 29R.

Monday, 18th March, 1861.—Camp 30R.

Tuesday, 19th March, 1861.—Camp 31R.

Wednesday, 20th March, 1861.—Camp 32R. Feasting Camp. Last evening the sky was clouded about nine P.M., and a shower came down from the north. At ten o'clock it became so dark that we camped on the bank of the creek, in which was a nice current of clear water. To-day we halted, intending to try a night journey. The packs we overhauled and left nearly 60 pounds weight of things behind. They were all suspended in a pack from the branches of a shrub close to the creek. We started at a quarter to six, but were continually pulled up by billibongs and branch creeks, and soon had to camp for the night. At the junction of the two creeks just above are the three cones, which are three remarkably small hills to the eastward.

Thursday, 21st March, 1861.—Humid Camp, 33R.—Unable to proceed on account of the slippery and boggy state of the ground. The rain has fallen very heavily here to-day, and every little depression in the ground is either full of water or covered with slimy mud. Another heavy storm passed over during the night, almost extinguishing the miserable fire we were able to get up with our very limited quantity of waterlogged and green wood. Having been so unfortunate last night, we took an early breakfast this morning at Camp 33, which I had named the Humid Camp, from the state of dampness in which we found everything there; and crossing to the east bank of the main creek, proceeded in a southerly direction nearly parallel with the creek. Some of the flats near the creek contain the richest alluvial soil, and are clothed with luxuriant vegetation. There is an immense extent of plain, back, of the finest character for pastoral purposes, and the country bears every appearance of being permanently well watered. We halted on a large billibong at noon, and were favoured during dinner by a thunderstorm, the heavier portion of which missed us, some passing north and some south, which was fortunate, as it would otherwise have spoiled our baking process, a matter of some importance just now. We started again at seven o'clock, but the effects of the heavy rain prevented our making a good journey.

Friday, 22nd March, 1861.—Muddy Camp, 34R.—Had an early breakfast this morning, and started before sunrise. Found that the wet swampy ground that checked our progress last night was only a narrow strip, and that had we gone a little further we might have made a fine journey. The country consisted of open, well-grassed, pebbly plains, intersected by numerous small channels, all containing water. Abundance of fine rich portulac was just bursting into flower along all these channels, as well as on the greater portion of the plain. The creek that we camped on last night ran nearly parallel with us throughout this stage. We should have crossed it, to avoid the stony plains, but were prevented by the flood from so doing.

Saturday, 23rd March, 1861.—Mosquito Camp, 35R.—Started at a quarter to six and followed down the creek, which has much of the characteristic appearance of the River Burke, where we crossed it on our up journey. The land in the vicinity greatly improves as one goes down, becoming less stony and better grassed. At eleven o'clock we crossed a small tributary from the eastward, and there was a distant range of considerable extent visible in that direction. Halted for the afternoon in a bend where there was tolerable feed, but the banks are everywhere more or less scrubby.

Sunday, 24th March, 1861.—Three-hour Camp, 36R.

Monday, 25th March, 1861.—Native-Dog Camp, 37R.—Started at half-past five, looking for a good place to halt for the day. This we found at a short distance down the creek, and immediately discovered that it was close to Camp 89 of our up journey. Had not expected that we were so much to the westward. After breakfast, took some time-altitudes, and was about to go back to last camp for some things that had been left, when I found Gray behind a tree eating skilligolee. He explained that he was suffering from dysentery, and had taken the flour without leave. Sent him to report himself to Mr. Burke, and went on. He, having got King to tell Mr. Burke for him, was called up, and received a good thrashing. There is no knowing to what extent he has been robbing us. Many things have been found to run unaccountably short. Started at seven o'clock, the camels in first-rate spirits. We followed our old course back (south). The first portion of the plains had much the same appearance as when we came up, but that near Camp 88, which then looked so fresh and green, is now very much dried up; and we saw no signs of water anywhere. In fact, there seems to have been little or no rain about here since we passed. Soon after three o'clock we struck the first of several small creeks or billibongs, which must be portions of the creek with the deep channel that we crossed on going up, we being now rather to the westward of our former course. From here, after traversing about two miles of the barest clay plain, devoid of all vegetation, we reached a small watercourse, most of the holes in which contained some water of a milky or creamy description. Fine salt bush and portulac being abundant in the vicinity, we camped here at 4.30 A.M. When we started in the evening, a strong breeze had already sprung up in the south, which conveyed much of the characteristic feeling of a hot wind. It increased gradually to a force of five and six, but by eleven o'clock had become decidedly cool, and was so chilly towards morning that we found it necessary to throw on our ponchos. A few cirrocumulus clouds were coming up from the east when we started, but we left them behind, and nothing was visible during the night but a thin hazy veil. The gale continued throughout the 26th, becoming warmer as the day advanced. In the afternoon it blew furiously, raising a good deal of dust. The temperature of air at four P.M. was 84 degrees in the shade. Wind trees all day.

. . .

This last entry contains an unpleasant record of poor Gray's delinquency. He appears to have been hitherto rather a favourite with my son.

King, on his examination before the Royal Commission, finding that Mr. Burke was censured for chastising Gray, at first denied it strongly. My son only relates in his diary what Mr. Burke had told him; "I have given Gray a good thrashing, and well he deserved it." King blamed my son for mentioning this, but admitted that Mr. Burke gave Gray several slaps on the head; afterwards, seeing that Mr. Burke was found fault with for not keeping a journal, King was made to appear to say that Mr. Wills's journal was written in conjunction with and under the supervision of Mr. Burke; and thus accounted for the absence of one by Mr. Burke. I was present at King's examination, and can bear witness that he said nothing of the kind. His answers, as given in the Royal Commission Report, were framed to suit the questions of the interrogator, which appeared to astonish King, and he made no reply. King's statements, as far as he understood what he was asked, I believe to have been generally very truthful, and honestly given.

After March 25th, an interval of three days occurs, in which nothing is noted. Gray's illness, attending to the maps, with extra labour, may account for this omission.

. . .

March 29.—Camels' last feast; fine green feed at this camp: plenty of vines and young polygonums on the small billibongs.

March 30.—Boocha's rest.—Poor Boocha was killed; employed all day in cutting up and jerking him: the day turned out as favourable for us as we could have wished, and a considerable portion of the meat was completely jerked before sunset.

March 31.—Mia Mia Camp.—Plenty of good dry feed; various shrubs; salt bushes, including cotton bush and some coarse kangaroo grass; water in the hollows on the stony pavement. The neighbouring country chiefly composed of stony rises and sand ridges.

April 5—Oil Camp.—Earthy and clayey plains, generally sound and tolerably grassed, but in other places bare salt bush, and withered.

April 6 and 7.—Earthy flats, cut into innumerable water courses, succeeded by fine open plains, generally very bare, but having in some places patches of fine salt bush. The dead stalks of portulac and mallows show that those plants are very plentiful in some seasons. Towards noon came upon earthy plains and numerous billibongs. The next day the water and feed much dried up, and nearly all the water has a slightly brackish taste of a peculiar kind, somewhat resembling in flavour potassio-tartrate of soda (cream of tartar).

On the 8th, poor Gray, suffering under the bad odour of his peculations, was thought to be pretending illness, because he could not walk, and my son, when he was himself ill, much regretted their suspicions on this point; but it appears from King's evidence, that Gray's excuse for using the provisions surreptitiously, that he was attacked by dysentery, was without foundation.

Monday, April 8.—Camp 50R.—Camped a short distance above Camp 75. The creek here contains more water, and there is a considerable quantity of green grass in its bed, but it is much dried up since we passed before. Halted fifteen minutes to send back for Gray, who pretended that he could not walk. Some good showers must have fallen lately, as we have passed surface water on the plains every day. In the latter portion of to-day's journey, the young grass and portulac are springing freshly in the flats, and on the sides of the sand ridges.

Tuesday, April 9.—Camp 51R.—Camped on the bank of the creek, where there is a regular field of salt bush, as well as some grass in its bed, very acceptable to the horse, who has not had a proper feed for the last week until last night, and is, consequently, nearly knocked up.

Wednesday, April 10.—Camp 52R.—Remained at Camp 52 R all day, to cut up and jerk the meat of the horse Billy, who was so reduced and knocked up for want of food that there appeared little chance of his reaching the other side of the desert; and as we were running short of food of every description ourselves, we thought it best to secure his flesh at once. We found it healthy and tender, but without the slightest trace of fat in any portion of the body.

. . .

In the journal to the Fifteenth, there is nothing worthy of note; there were watercourses daily, the character of the country the same; the plants chiefly chrysanthemums and salt bush. On the latter day it rained heavily, commenced at five in the morning, and continued pretty steadily throughout the day. The camel, Linda, got knocked up owing to the wet, and having to cross numerous sand ridges; and at four o'clock they had to halt at a clay-pan among the sandhills.

On Wednesday, the 17th, my son notes the death of poor Gray: "He had not spoken a word distinctly since his first attack, which was just about as we were going to start." Here King mentions that they remained one day to bury Gray. They were so weak, he said, that it was with difficulty they could dig a grave sufficiently deep to inter him in. This is not in the journal, but in King's narrative.

. . .

On the 19th, camped again without water, on the sandy bed of the creek, having been followed by a lot of natives who were desirous of our company; but as we preferred camping alone, we were compelled to move on until rather late, in order to get away from them. The night was very cold. A strong breeze was blowing from the south, which made the fire so irregular that, as on the two previous nights, it was impossible to keep up a fair temperature. Our general course throughout the day had been south-south-east.

. . .

On Sunday, April 21, the survivors, Mr. Burke, my son, King, and two camels, reached Cooper's Creek at the exact place where the depot party had been left under Brahe. THERE WAS NO ONE THERE! During the last few days every exertion had been made, every nerve strained to reach the goal of their arduous labours—the spot where they expected to find rest, clothing, and provisions in abundance. King describes in vivid language the exertions of that last ride of thirty miles; and Burke's delight when he thought he saw the depot camp; "There they are!" he exclaimed; "I see them!" The wish was "father to the thought." Lost and bewildered in amazement, he appeared like one stupefied when the appalling truth burst on him. King has often described to me the scene. "Mr. Wills looked about him in all directions. Presently he said, 'King, they are gone;' pointing a short way off to a spot, 'there are the things they have left.' Then he and I set to work to dig them up, which we did in a short time. Mr. Burke at first was quite overwhelmed, and flung himself on the ground." But soon recovering, they all three set to work to cook some victuals. When thus refreshed, my son made the following entry in his journal:

Sunday, April 21.—Arrived at the depot this evening, just in time to find it deserted. A note left in the plant by Brahe communicates the pleasing information that they have started today for the Darling; their camels and horses all well and in good condition. We and our camels being just done up, and scarcely able to reach the depot, have very little chance of overtaking them. Brahe has fortunately left us ample provisions to take us to the bounds of civilization namely:—Flour, 50 pounds; rice, 20 pounds; oatmeal, 60 pounds; sugar, 60 pounds; and dried meat, 15 pounds. These provisions, together with a few horse-shoes and nails, and some odds and ends, constitute all the articles left, and place us in a very awkward position in respect to clothing. Our disappointment at finding the depot deserted may easily be imagined;—returning in an exhausted state, after four months of the severest travelling and privation, our legs almost paralyzed, so that each of us found it a most trying task only to walk a few yards. Such a leg-bound feeling I never before experienced, and hope I never shall again. The exertion required to get up a slight piece of rising ground, even without any load, induces an indescribable sensation of pain and helplessness, and the general lassitude makes one unfit for anything. Poor Gray must have suffered very much many times when we thought him shamming. It is most fortunate for us that these symptoms, which so early affected him, did not come on us until we were reduced to an exclusively animal diet of such an inferior description as that offered by the flesh of a worn-out and exhausted horse. We were not long in getting out the grub that Brahe had left, and we made a good supper off some oatmeal porridge and sugar. This, together with the excitement of finding ourselves in such a peculiar and most unexpected position, had a wonderful effect in removing the stiffness from our legs. Whether it is possible that the vegetables can have so affected us, I know not; but both Mr. Burke and I remarked a most decided relief and a strength in the legs greater than we had had for several days. I am inclined to think that but for the abundance of portulac that we obtained on the journey, we should scarcely have returned to Cooper's Creek at all.

. . .

I asked King how my son behaved. His answer was, that he never once showed the slightest anger or loss of self-command. From under a tree on which had been marked, "DIG, 21st April, 1861," a box was extracted containing the provisions, and a bottle with the following note:—

Depot, Cooper's Creek, April 21, 1861.

The depot party of the V.E.E. leaves this camp to-day to return to the Darling. I intend to go south-east from Camp 60 to get into our old track near Bulloo. Two of my companions and myself are quite well; the third, Patten, has been unable to walk for the last eighteen days, as his leg has been severely hurt when thrown by one of the horses. No one has been up here from the Darling. We have six camels and twelve horses in good working condition.


. . .

Brahe has been blamed for not having left a true statement of his condition, and that of those with him; but it was truth when he wrote it. He believed Patten's to have been a sprain. It was afterwards that he contradicted himself, in his journal WRITTEN IN MELBOURNE, and in his evidence before the Royal Commission. Brahe had no journal when he came down the first time with a message from Wright, and was requested, or ordered, by the committee to produce one, which he subsequently did. In this journal, Brahe enters, on the 15th April:

Patten is getting worse. I and McDonough begin to feel ALARMING SYMPTOMS of the same disease (namely, a sprain).

April 18.—There is no probability of Mr. Burke returning this way. Patten is in a deplorable state, and desirous of returning to the Darling to obtain medical assistance; and our provisions will soon be reduced to a quantity insufficient to take us back to the Darling if the trip should turn out difficult and tedious. Being also sure that I and McDonough would not much longer escape scurvy, I, after most seriously considering all circumstances, made up my mind to start for the Darling on Sunday next, the 21st.

. . .

That day he abandoned the depot at ten A.M. leaving 50 pounds of flour, taking with him 150 pounds; leaving 50 pounds of oatmeal, taking ABOUT 70 pounds; leaving 50 pounds of sugar, taking 75 pounds; leaving rice 30 pounds, taking one bag. He left neither tea nor biscuits, and took all the clothes, being the property of Mr. Wills. The latter, he said before the Royal Commissioners, were only shirts, omitting the word flannel, and added that they were badly off themselves. He was asked:—

Question 323: Had you any clothes of any description at Cooper's Creek that might have been left?—Yes, I had a parcel of clothes that were left with me by Mr. Wills; these were all that I know of, and we ourselves were very badly off.

Question 1729. By Dr. Wills (through the chairman)—I wish to know whether a portmanteau was left with you, belonging to Mr. Wills, my son? Yes, a bag, a calico bag containing clothes.

1730.—You were aware it was his own property?—I was.

1731.—What made you take those clothes back to Menindie, and not leave them in the cache?—Mr. Wills was better supplied than any other member of the party, and I certainly did not think he would be in want of clothes.

. . .

With a somewhat unaccountable disposition to sympathize with Brahe, on the part of the Committee and the Royal Commission, the latter summed up their impression of his conduct thus:

The conduct of Mr. Brahe in retiring from his position at the depot before he was rejoined by his commander, or relieved from the Darling, may be deserving of considerable censure; but we are of opinion that a responsibility far beyond his expectations devolved upon him; and it must be borne in mind that, with the assurance of his leader, and his own conviction that he might each day expect to be relieved by Mr. Wright, he still held his post for four months and five days; and that only when pressed by the appeals of a comrade sickening even to death, as was subsequently proved, his powers of endurance gave way, and he retired from the position which could alone afford succour to the weary explorers should they return by that route. His decision was most unfortunate; but we believe he acted from a conscientious desire to discharge his duty, and we are confident that the painful reflection that twenty-four hours' further perseverance would have made him the rescuer of the explorers, and gained for himself the praise and approbation of all, must be of itself an agonizing thought, without the addition of censure he might feel himself undeserving of.


Proceedings in Melbourne. Meeting of the Exploration Committee. Tardy Resolutions. Departure of Mr. Howitt. Patriotic Effort of Mr. Orkney. South Australian Expedition under Mr. McKinlay. News of White Men and Camels having been seen by Natives in the Interior. Certain Intelligence of the Fate of the Explorers reaches Melbourne.

IN March, 1861, I began, in the absence of all intelligence, to feel some apprehension for my son's safety, and the result of the expedition. On the 8th, Professor Neumayer, in reply to a letter from me, said: "You have asked me about the Exploring Expedition, and it is really a difficult matter to give a definite answer to the question. I think that by this time the party must have reached the Gulf of Carpentaria, supposing them to have proceeded in that direction. In fact, I think they may have recrossed already a great part of the desert country, if everything went on smoothly after leaving Cooper's Creek. I have a thorough confidence in Mr. Wills's character and energy, and I am sure they will never fail. I cannot help regretting that the Committee should not have understood the force of my arguments, when I advised them to send the expedition towards the north-west. This would very likely have forwarded the task considerably. My feeling is not very strong as to the results we may expect from the present attempt. Indeed, as far as science and practical advantages are concerned, I look upon the whole as a mistake. Mr. Wills is entirely alone; he has no one to assist him in his zeal, and take a part of his onerous duties from him. Had he been put in a position to make valuable magnetic observations, he would have earned the thanks of the scientific world. But, under existing circumstances, he can do nothing at all for the advancement of this particular branch. However, I hope future expeditions will afford him an opportunity to fill up that deficiency, if he should now be successful. The affair with Landells was nothing more nor less than what I expected and was quite prepared to hear. The man was not more qualified for the task he undertook than he would have been for any scientific position in the expedition. I am confident Mr. Wills is all right, and that Mr. Burke and he will agree well together."

All this was complimentary and gratifying to a father's feelings. Still, as time passed on, forebodings came upon me that this great expedition, starting with so much display from Melbourne, with a steady, declared, and scientific object, would dwindle down into a flying light corps, making a sudden dash across the continent and back again with no permanent results. Discharges and resignations had taken place, and no efforts were made by the committee to fill up the vacancies. No assistant surveyor had been sent to my son, no successor appointed to Dr. Beckler. The last-named gentleman brought back many of the scientific instruments intrusted to his charge, alleging that if he had not done so, Mr. Burke, who was unscientific and impatient of the time lost in making and registering observations, threatened to throw them into the next creek. The supineness of the committee was justly, not too severely commented on in the Report of the Royal Commission: "The Exploration Committee, in overlooking the importance of the contents of Mr. Burke's despatch from Torowoto, and in not urging Mr. Wright's departure from the Darling, committed errors of a serious nature. A means of knowledge of the delay of the party at Menindie was in possession of the committee, not indeed by direct communication to that effect, but through the receipt of letters from Drs. Becker and Beckler, at various dates up to the end of November;—without, however, awakening the committee to a sense of the vital importance of Mr. Burke's request in that despatch that he should 'be soon followed up;'—or to a consideration of the disastrous consequences which would be likely to result, and did unfortunately result, from the fatal inactivity and idling of Mr. Wright and his party on the Darling."

During the month of March, the Argus newspaper called attention to the matter, and a letter, signed Lockhart Moreton, expressed itself thus "What has become of the expedition? Surely the committee are not alive to the necessity of sending some one up? Burke has by this time crossed the continent, or is lost. What has become of Wright? What is he doing?"

Then came a letter from Menindie, expressing strong opinions on the state of affairs, but flattering to my son. It was evident to me that these gentlemen knew or thought more than they felt disposed to state directly in words. I have already mentioned that Mr. Burke, while within the districts where newspapers could reach him, had been harassed, from the time of his appointment, by remarks in the public prints, evidently proceeding from parties and their friends who thought the honour of leading this grand procession more properly belonged to themselves. Being a gentleman of sensitive feelings, these observations touched him to the quick. When he was no longer within reach, they still continued, but he found defenders in the all-powerful Argus. I am sorry to say, for the sake of human nature, that there were some who went so far as to wish no successful result to his enterprise.

Believing and trusting that these remarks of Mr. Moreton and others, would stir up the committee to take some steps to ascertain if Mr. Wright was moving in his duty, I contented myself with writing to the Magnetic Observatory, to learn from Professor Neumayer what was going on. He being absent on scientific tours, I received answers from his locum tenens, to the effect that within a month certain information was expected. The committee I did not trouble, as their Honorary Secretary had deigned no reply to letters I had previously sent.

In the month of June, unable to bear longer suspense, with a small pack on my shoulders and a stick in my hand, I walked from Ballaarat to Melbourne, a distance of seventy-five miles, stopping for a couple of nights on the way at the house of a kind and hospitable friend, Dugald McPherson, Esquire, J.P., at Bungel-Tap. This gentleman has built a substantial mansion there, in the Elizabethan style, likely, from its solidity, to last for centuries. I arrived at Melbourne on Saturday, the 16th of June. On Monday, the 18th, I called on the Honourable David Wilkie, honorary treasurer to the committee. I found him issuing circulars for a meeting to consider what was to be done. My heart sank within me when I found that no measures whatever had yet been taken. I called on those I knew amongst the committee to entreat their attendance. I hastened to Professor Neumayer, with reference to Mr. Lockhart's letter, to ask if it had been arranged with Mr. Burke that a vessel should be despatched round the coast to the Gulf to meet him there. His answer was that a conversation on that point had taken place between Mr. Burke, my son, and himself, but that Mr. Burke had enjoined him (the professor) not to move in it, for that, if so disposed, he would himself apply to the committee by letter.

A meeting took place on the evening of the 18th. The opinions were as numerous as the members in attendance. Quot homines tot sententiae. One talked of financial affairs, another of science, a third of geography, a fourth of astronomy, and so on. A chapter in the Circumlocution Office painfully unfolded itself. Mr. Ligar rather rudely asked me what I was in such alarm about; observed that "there was plenty of time; no news was good news; and I had better go home and mind my own business." I felt hurt, naturally enough, some of my readers may suppose, and replied that had I not been convinced something was doing, I should scarcely have remained quiet at Ballaarat for three months. A gentleman, with whom I had no previous acquaintance, seeing my anxiety, and feeling that the emergency called for immediate action, appealed to them warmly, and the result was a decision, nemine contradicente, that it was time to move, if active and trustworthy agents could be found. I offered my services for one, but the meeting adjourned without coming to any decision, and was followed by other indefinite meetings and adjournments de die in diem.

On the following day, Dr. Macadam, Honorary Secretary, attended (the press of the morning had incited movement) and announced the welcome intelligence that Mr. A. Howitt was in Melbourne; that he had seen him; that he was ready to go on the shortest notice. So far all was good. But now I saw the full misery and imbecility of leaving a large body to decide what should have been delegated to a quorum of three at the most. The meetings took place regularly, but the same members seldom attended twice. New illusions and conceits suggested themselves as often as different committee-men found it convenient to deliver their opinions and vouchsafe their presence. Let me here specially except Ferdinand Mueller, M.D. and F.R.S., of London, who though a foreigner, a Dane by birth, I believe, has won by his talents that honourable distinction. His energy in all he undertakes is untiring and unsurpassable. On this occasion he was ever active and unremitting, while his sympathy and kindness to myself have never varied from the first day of our acquaintance. The Honourable David Wilkie, at whose private house we met nightly, deserves the highest credit for expediting the business, which ended in the despatch of the party under Mr. Howitt. Mr. Heales also, then Chief Secretary for the Colony, promised assistance in money, and the use of the Victoria steamer, under Captain Norman, to be sent round to the Gulf of Carpentaria as soon as she could be got ready.

The Melbourne Argus, of June 19th, contained the following leading article:—

The public will be glad to learn that the Exploration Committee of the Royal Society have at length resolved to set about partly doing what in April last we urged upon them. A small party is to be despatched to Cooper's Creek with means to supply necessaries to the Exploring Expedition, and to make all possible efforts to ascertain the whereabouts of Mr. Burke. It is well this should be done, and that quickly, for we some eight months since learned that Mr. Burke had provisions calculated to last his party for five months only. But this is not all that should be done. When referring to this subject two months ago, basing our calculations on the knowledge we then had—and it has since received no increase—we reckoned that Mr. Burke, who left Menindie on the 19th of October last, would reach Cooper's Creek by the beginning of November, and that if he determined upon making for the Gulf of Carpentaria, he might be expected to reach the north coast by about the middle of March last. If his provisions enabled him to do this, it is unlikely they would suffice him for a return journey southwards, or an expedition westward. We cannot think, then, that a party sent to Cooper's Creek should be regarded as sufficient. Why should not the Victoria be utilized? Were she sent round the west coast to the point Mr. Burke might be expected to strike—if, instead of bearing north, after reaching the centre, he has turned westward, as we anticipated he might do—he would possibly be heard of there. If not, the Victoria would be still so far on her way to the Gulf of Carpentaria—the only other goal he is likely to aim at reaching. Two expeditions, therefore, should at once be despatched—the party to Cooper's Creek, and the colonial steamer round the coast. Let it not be said to our disgrace that anything has been neglected which money or energy could have done to insure the safety of the men who have devoted themselves to a work in which the whole civilized world is interested, and of which, if now carried on with success, this colony will reap all the glory. It is a work which all men must have at heart, whether as lovers of their fellow-men, of science, or of their country. Let it not be marred by aught of niggardliness or supineness. The work must be well and quickly done. The progress of Mr. Stuart and of Mr. Burke is now watched with the warmest interest and sympathy by men of science in Europe. Mr. Stuart is well and generously cared for by the South Australian Government and people. What will be said if Victoria alone, by parsimony or apathy, allowed her Exploring Expedition to fail or her public servants to suffer unnecessary hardships, or even death?

As to the men to whom the inland expedition is to be intrusted, some conversation took place at the recent meeting of the Exploration Committee. Dr. Wills, of Ballaarat, father of Mr. Wills, second in command with Mr. Burke, was present, and offered to accompany the party. Professor Neumayer suggested a gentleman named Walsh, from his own office, as suitable for the enterprise; and Dr. Embling, it is rumoured, supports Mr. Landells as a fit person for the post of leader. We have nothing to say for or against the two former suggestions, but this last demands notice. We consider that Mr. Landells has already shown himself singularly unfitted to fill a post of this kind.

. . .

Mr. Howitt's offer did away with the necessity for my pressing to go. Although I felt tolerably confident in my own physical powers, I should have much regretted had they failed on experiment, and thereby retarded rather than aided the object in view. Mr. Walsh went, but was of no service, as he lost the sight of one eye in the first observation he attempted to make; but Mr. Howitt proved equal to the emergency and did the work. [Footnote: A strange incident connected with Mr. Walsh's misfortune was reported abroad, but I do not vouch for its truth. When under surgical treatment for his impaired vision, it was said that the operators in consultation decided on an experiment to test the powers of the retina to receive light, and in so doing blinded the other eye. Mr. Walsh went to England, having had a sum granted to him by the Victoria government. Whether he has recovered his sight I know not.]

Mr. Howitt being equipped and despatched, I returned to Ballaarat, somewhat relieved, after my fortnight's anxious labours with the committee; but on the evening of Friday, the 5th of July, I was startled by reading the following statement in the Melbourne Weekly Age:—


The unexpected news of Mr. Burke's expedition of discovery, which we publish this morning, is positively disastrous. The entire company of explorers has been dissipated out of being, like dewdrops before the sun. Some are dead, some are on their way back, one has come to Melbourne, and another has made his way to Adelaide, whilst only four of the whole party have gone forward from the depot at Cooper's Creek upon the main journey of the expedition to explore the remote interior. The four consist of the two chief officers and two men; namely, Mr. Burke, the leader, and Mr. Wills, the surveyor and second in command of the party, together with the men King and Gray. This devoted little band left Cooper's Creek for the far interior on the 16th of December last, more than six months ago, taking with them six camels and one horse, and only twelve weeks' provisions. From Mr. Burke's despatch we learn that he meant to proceed in the first place to Eyre's Creek; and from that place he would make an effort to explore the country northward in the direction of the Gulf of Carpentaria. He states also that he meant to return to Cooper's Creek within three months at the farthest; that is, about the middle of March. Before starting on this route he had already tried a passage northward between Gregory's and Stuart's tracks; but he found this passage impracticable, from want of water. He does not state anything that would enable us to form an opinion of what his intentions might be after leaving Eyre's Creek, beyond his saying that he meant to push northwards towards the Gulf. Neither does it appear that he left any instructions or directions upon the matter with Mr. Brahe. He merely informed the latter that he meant to run no risks, and that he would be back within a brief stated period, and that Mr. Brahe was not to wait for him at the depot beyond three months. Mr. Brahe's statement, in fact, throws very little light upon the probabilities of Mr. Burke's future course, after leaving the depot at Cooper's Creek. He accompanied him one day's journey, some twenty miles or so, on his way towards the north. But he seems to know very little of what Mr. Burke's ultimate intentions were. Perhaps, indeed, Mr. Burke himself had no very definite scheme sketched out in his own mind, as to any settled purpose for the future, beyond his trying to make the best of his way in the direction of the Gulf of Carpentaria. He probably never entertained the idea of its being necessary to plan out various different alternatives to adopt, in case of the failure of any one particular course of proceeding. The facility and despatch with which he had got over the ground to Cooper's Creek may have produced too confident a state of mind as to the future. And his having learned that Stuart had, with only two or three companions, advanced within a couple of days' journey of the northern coast, would tend greatly to increase that too confident tone of mind. Both circumstances were likely to produce a feeling, especially in a sanguine temperament like Burke's, that there was no need of his arranging beforehand, and leaving behind him, with Mr. Brahe, plans of intended procedure on his part, the knowledge of which would subsequently give a clue to his fate, in case of his continued absence. He seems not to have formed any anticipation of a vessel being sent round to meet him on the north coast, according to Mr. Brahe's account.

What then did he propose to do, and what is likely to have become of him? The fear forces itself upon us, that, acting under the influence of excessive confidence, arising from the causes already referred to, Mr. Burke and his little band of three companions went forth towards the north in a state of mind unprepared to meet insurmountable obstacles; that difficulties, arising chiefly from want of water, sprung up in his path, and assumed greater magnitude than the previous experience of the expedition could have led them to anticipate; and that if the little party has not succumbed to these difficulties before now, they are to be sought for either on the northern coast, by a vessel to be sent there for that purpose, or in the country towards the Gulf of Carpentaria, by an overland party despatched in that direction. Indeed, both attempts should be made simultaneously, and with the least possible delay. The present period of the year is most propitious for the inland journey, both on account of the abundance of water and the moderate temperature incident to the winter season. There should not be a moment lost, then, in forwarding this portion of the search; and the coasting portion of it should be commenced as soon after as possible.

The sufferings to which the unhappy men are exposed will be understood from Mr. Wright's report of what befell the party under his charge. They were prostrated by scurvy, as well as being additionally enfeebled by the irregular supply of water. And at length four of their number, worn out by their sufferings, perished by a wretched, lingering death in the wilderness. There is something deeply melancholy in such a fact. Poor Becker! He had scarcely the physique for encountering the toils of such an expedition. However, regrets over the past are vain. What is of importance now is to save the remainder of the party, if possible. And perhaps the best way of opening up the search inland would be for the committee to avail themselves of Mr. Howitt's offer to proceed at once, with an enlarged party, including Mr. Brahe, to Cooper's Creek, and thence to Eyre's Creek, and northwards towards the coast, should they not previously have encountered Mr. Burke and his companions on their return.

It is somewhat disheartening to find that when Mr. Wright returned for the last time to the Cooper's Creek depot, namely, so recently as the first week in May—that is, five months after Burke set out on his final excursion—he did not think it necessary to make any examination of the country, as far at least as Eyre's Creek. It might naturally be supposed that on finding, by examining the concealed stores, that Mr. Burke had not revisited the depot, Mr. Wright would endeavour to make some search for him, to the extent of a few days' journey at all events. Before turning their back finally upon the solitude where their companions were wandering, one last search might have well been made. But perhaps the disabled condition of the men, horses, and camels may be taken to account for this seeming neglect. It may not be too late even now, however, to make amends for this strange oversight, by hastening on Mr. Howitt's party. The whole expedition appears to have been one prolonged blunder throughout; and it is to be hoped that the rescuing party may not be mismanaged and retarded in the same way as the unfortunate original expedition was. The savans have made a sad mess of the whole affair; let them, if possible, retrieve themselves in this its last sad phase.

. . .

I returned immediately to Melbourne, and found the committee in earnest at last, the Government aiding them in every possible way. Mr. Heales offered all the assistance he could give. The Victoria, which I thought had been made ready, was now put under immediate repair. Proceedings were reported in the Herald as follows:—

The adjourned meeting of the Exploration Committee was held yesterday afternoon, in the Hall of the Royal Society, Victoria Street. Dr. Mueller occupied the chair, in the unavoidable absence of Sir William Stawell.

The minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed.

The Chairman said the honorary treasurer would lay before the committee the result of the interview the deputation had the honour to hold with the Chief Secretary that day. Unfortunately they had not had the advantage of Dr. Macadam's assistance, but he was glad that gentleman was now present, and that they had one member of the Government.

The Honourable Dr. Wilkie, M.L.C., said that Dr. Mueller, himself, and Dr. Wills, father of Mr. Wills, a member of the expedition, waited on the Chief Secretary and communicated to him the resolution passed by the Exploration Committee, strongly recommending the Government to give the Victoria steamer for the purpose of proceeding to the Gulf of Carpentaria in aid of Mr. Burke's party. He might state that the deputation entered fully into the whole question, and that the Chief Secretary very cordially promised that the Victoria should be given, and that at the same time he (the Chief Secretary) said it was the desire of the Government to promote the wishes of the Exploration Committee, as far as possible, in rendering assistance to Mr. Burke. Further discussion took place with reference to other matters, which would immediately come under the consideration of the committee;—as to the sending a land party from Rockhampton; and the Government had promised every possible assistance that they could render.

. . .

Mr. Howitt, who returned the next day, was soon despatched again with increased means, to follow up his work in aid. A communication was immediately opened with the Queensland Government on the north-east to get up an expedition under some competent person, but at the charge of Victoria; and Mr. Walker, who had already acquired note as a leader of a party of native police, was proposed for the command. Captain Norman with the Victoria steamer was to start as soon as possible, coasting round to the Gulf, taking with him a small tender; whilst Walker, or whoever might be appointed in Queensland, should proceed north, overland. Nothing further could be done in Melbourne by the committee or Government; but I have now to narrate a noble act on the part of a private individual.

James Orkney, Esquire, M.L.A. for West Melbourne, had a small steamer of sixteen tons, built by himself from a model of the Great Eastern, which was quite ready for sea; and having also a captain willing to embark in her, he undertook to send her round to the Gulf of Carpentaria at his own charge. The adventurous gentleman who offered his services was no less a personage than Wyse, the skipper of Lord Dufferin's yacht on his celebrated voyage to the North Seas, which his lordship has commemorated in his delightful little book entitled, Letters from High Latitudes. The Sir Charles Hotham, for so the little craft was called, was intended to precede Captain Norman, as the Victoria would take at least a fortnight in equipping. She was expected, from her light draught of water, to render much aid in exploring the rivers and steaming against currents. She left on the 6th of July, towed out of Hudson's Bay by the Sydney steamer. The weather became stormy, and the steamer was compelled to cut her adrift during the night. Left to herself and her gallant captain, with a crew of two men only, she made her way to Sydney. During this time the coast was visited by severe gales, and much anxiety was felt for the Sir Charles Hotham. The agents of the Sydney steamer regretted that they had not heard of the proposed arrangement a few hours earlier, as they would readily have taken her on deck. But they did all that was in their power.

Mr. Orkney soon received the pleasing intelligence that his little craft was safe in Sydney Harbour, but requiring some repairs. These were completed with as much speed as possible, Mr. Orkney bearing every expense, including that of the telegrams, which was considerable. Again the miniature steamer proceeded from Sydney, northward; but after some progress, Wyse, steering her into shallow water, near shore, to anchor for the night, ran her on the peak of the anchor, which made a hole in her bottom, and quite incapacitated her from further service. Thus Mr. Orkney lost the hope he entertained and the satisfaction he would have enjoyed, of being serviceable to the lost explorers; but the credit due to him is far from being diminished by his want of success, and the patriotic effort deserves to be recorded to his eternal honour. Through this incident I made his acquaintance, and ever since we have been, and I hope shall continue to be, sincere friends.

My anxiety for my son's safety interfered with my attention to ordinary professional avocations. I accordingly left Ballaarat for a time, and continued in Melbourne, casting about to see how I could render myself useful in the great object of my thoughts. At first I inclined to go round to the Gulf with Captain Norman, and obtained permission to do so, when an announcement reached Melbourne by telegram to the effect that the South Australian Government had decided on sending an Expedition from that quarter, and asking for the loan of some camels, with the use of the two that had strayed in that direction, and had been brought down to Adelaide from Dr. Brown's station. These turned out to be two of the three that my son had lost when out on an excursion from Cooper's Creek, the circumstances of which have been already mentioned. Mr. McKinlay was at that time in Melbourne. He immediately started by the Havelock steamer to offer his services as leader of the party. I sent a letter to Sir Richard McDonnel, the Governor, by him, proposing to accompany them as surgeon, and to assist as guide. I received a reply by telegram asking if I would put myself under Mr. McKinlay, and also requesting from the Government some additional camels. I obtained permission from Mr. Heales to have those that might be useful, and in three days started in the Oscar (since lost) with the camels.

On arriving in Adelaide, I found that the South Australian Expedition was instructed to proceed, in the first instance, to Cooper's Creek, whither Mr. Howitt had already gone. This I thought a mistaken direction, as Howitt would be there before us, and the north and east search being amply provided for, it appeared profitless. The Government also proposed a surveying tour on their own account, in conjunction with the search for the missing explorers. These plans not exactly falling in with my view of the business, I gave up my intention of forming one of the party. Mr. McKinlay was a fine fellow, well adapted to the work; his companions strong and lively, and of a proper age, neither too old nor too young. Having seen him off, I determined to remain for a time in Adelaide, a delightful place, where I found some of the kindest and most agreeable acquaintances I have ever had the good fortune to meet with.

The South Australian Register, of the 24th of August, 1861, gave the following summary of the measures in progress:—

Our readers will perhaps be surprised to learn that a new exploring expedition has just been sent to the northern interior. To explore is clearly one of the missions of South Australia; but this time the object is less one of curiosity than humanity. With Mr. Stuart and his party still engaged in the work of opening a route to the north-west coast, no one would have thought it desirable, under ordinary circumstances, to undertake fresh explorations. But the whole colony has been moved by the dreadful doubt which hangs over the fate of Mr. Burke, the Victorian explorer, who, with three men, left Cooper's Creek at the beginning of the year; having only a few months' provisions with him. They have not been heard of since, and there is not much hope entertained of their safety. But all that can be done to assist them or to ascertain their fate is being done. The three adjacent provinces have sent in search of the lost explorers, and this colony has also despatched its expedition for the same good purpose. Mr. McKinlay, an experienced bushman, has left Adelaide upon this chivalric task, taking with him six men, twenty-four horses, and four camels. His first duty is to seek for Burke, and in the next place to obtain a knowledge of unexplored country in the north.

. . .

After general instructions, Mr. McKinlay's duties were more specifically defined:—

You will in all matters keep the following objects in full view:—

Firstly. The relief of the expedition under the command of Mr. Burke, or the acquiring a knowledge of its fate. This is the great object of the expedition under your command.

When you may have accomplished the foregoing, or may have deemed it necessary to abandon the search for Mr. Burke, then,

Secondly. The acquiring a knowledge of the country between Eyre's Creek and Central Mount Stuart.

Thirdly. The acquiring a knowledge of the western shores of Lake Eyre. A separate letter of instructions is given to you and the particular matters to which you will direct your attention in this locality.

. . .

I had been in Adelaide nearly a month when I was startled by the following note, from Major Egerton Warburton:—

September 19th.


Would you kindly call in at my office? I have important news which must interest you.

Yours very truly,


. . .

I hastened to him, and asked, almost breathlessly, "What news—good or bad?" He replied, "Not so bad;" and then gave me the information which was made known in the House of Assembly that night, and embodied in the Adelaide Advertiser, the next day, to the following effect:—

On Thursday morning, considerable interest was excited in Adelaide by a rumour to the effect that intelligence from the interior had been received of Burke's party. We lost no time in instituting inquiry, and found that the report was certainly not unfounded. It was stated that a police trooper in the north had sent down information, derived through a black, that at a long distance beyond the settled districts some white men were living, and that the black had obtained a portion of their hair. The white men were described as being entirely naked, and as living upon a raft on a lake, supporting themselves by catching fish: that they had no firearms nor horses, but some great animals, which, from the description given by the native, were evidently camels. There could, therefore, be but little doubt as to this being Burke's party, or a portion of it; and as soon as it was ascertained that the rumour had some tangible kind of foundation, public curiosity for fuller and more authentic details speedily rose very high. On the assembling of Parliament, the Commissioner of Crown Lands, desirous of allaying the anxiety of the public, read from his place the letter brought by the native, of which the following is a copy: —

Wirrilpa, September 12, 1861,


I have the honour to forward the following particulars gathered from the blacks, seeming to refer to Mr. Burke and party. A black fellow called Sambo, who has lately come in from Lake Hope, brought with him the hair of two white men, which he showed to the cook and stockman at Tooncatchin. He says it was given to him by other blacks, who told him that there were white men living much farther out than where he had been. Frank James, one of Mr. Butler's stockmen, saw Sambo again on the 6th instant, and tried to get the hair from him. He had unfortunately given it away to other blacks. James promised him tobacco for it, and he has promised to get it again. Sambo says that the white men are naked, have no firearms or horses, but animals which from his description are evidently camels; that they sleep on a raft, which they build on the water. They live on fish which they catch with nets made with grass. Sambo says that the other blacks had told him that the white men arrived there this winter. According to Sambo, the people are twenty sleeps from Tooncatchin, by way of Lake Hope Creek. I do not think that these sleeps on the average exceed ten miles, so it is probable that they are on or near Cooper's Creek. Sambo is quite willing to go out all the way with a party of white men. He also says that the blacks on Lake Hope Creek are afraid of these white men. I received the above information from Mr. H. Butler, Frank James, and Cleland, on my arrival at Blanche on the 8th instant. Knowing that Mr. McKinlay and party were on their way, I accordingly left Blanche on the 9th, and I met Mr. McKinlay and party to-day on Bandnoota Plain, 145 miles south of Blanche, when I put that gentleman in possession of the above particulars.

I have etc.

JAMES HOWE, Police Trooper.

To George Hamilton, Esquire, J.P., Inspector of Police.

The Surveyor-General (Mr. Goyder) says that from the general tenor of the letter he inclines to the opinion that the white men are on some of the newly-discovered waters between Cooper's Creek and Eyre's Creek; and if so, this is precisely in the direction that Mr. McKinlay would, according to his instructions, have taken. But the most gratifying portion of the whole statement is that which assures us of Mr. McKinlay being placed in possession of the whole of the circumstances of the case; and considering the date when the information was given him, there is little doubt but that Mr. McKinlay, as the reader's eye rests on these words, is ON THE SPOT INDICATED by the black; and should this prove to be correct, and the party be saved, South Australia will have, in the cause of humanity, reason to rejoice that the Parliament took such prompt and vigorous measures to send out the relief expedition. The Commissioner of Crown Lands telegraphed to Melbourne, without delay, the substance of the trooper's letter; but it is not likely that any practical use could be made of it there, though it would revive the hopes of many of the friends of Burke and his party. If the white men spoken of in the letter are where Mr. Goyder imagines them to be, it is not very likely that Mr. Howitt's relief party would find them; so that it may, after all, be the destiny of South Australia not only to find men to cross the Australian continent, but to relieve and restore other explorers who have failed in that hazardous attempt.

Mr. Burke's party consists of himself as leader, Mr. Wills, astronomer and surveyor, and who is second in command,—two men, six camels, and one horse. Dr. Wills, who is now in Adelaide, having come round from Melbourne with the additional camels, says that the two camels which a short time since made their way into this colony overland, and were brought to town from Truro, were two out of the three that belonged to his son, and that they were allowed to stray, by a man left in charge of them whilst Mr. Wills was engaged in some astronomical pursuits. The man left the camels to make some tea, and, on his return, the animals had disappeared. Two of them, as already stated, have been recovered, but no tidings have been received of the third, unless it be the one recently said to have arrived at Fort Bourke. We hope we shall soon have further information, not only respecting Burke and his party, but also of Stuart, the time of whose anticipated return now draws on rapidly.

***We had scarcely written the above lines when we received a private telegram, informing us that Mr. Stuart was on his way to Adelaide.

This intelligence raised my sinking hopes to a high pitch. I felt convinced that this was the missing party. The black fellow had described the animals, which the natives called "gobble gobble," from the noise they made in their throats. Mr. McKinlay put little faith in the story; and I was vexed to hear by the next report from him that he was not hastening to the rescue. But it would then have been too late. The white men alluded to were, unquestionably, Burke, my son, and King, with exaggeration as to their being without clothes, and living on a raft.

Shortly after this I returned to Melbourne, and in another week the sad catastrophe became public beyond all further doubt. The intelligence had reached Melbourne on a Saturday night. I was staying at that time at the house of my kind friend Mr. Orkney. He had gone to the opera with Mrs. Orkney and another lady, and came home about half-past ten. I was surprised at their early return, and thought something unpleasant must have happened. A servant came to say that he wished to speak with me privately, and then I received the terrible communication which had been announced at the theatre during an interval between the acts. As soon as I had sufficiently recovered the shock, we proceeded in a car to the residence of Dr. Wilkie, the treasurer of the Committee. He had heard a report, but was rather incredulous, as nothing official had reached the Committee. At this moment, Dr. Macadam, the Honorary Secretary, came in. He was perfectly bewildered, believed nothing, and had received no telegram. "But," said I, "when were you at your own house last?" "At seven o'clock," was the reply. "Good God!" I exclaimed, "jump into the car." We proceeded to his house, and there indeed was the telegram, which had been waiting for him some hours.

The next morning, Sunday, November the 3rd, Brahe arrived at an early hour at the Spencer-street Station, having been sent in by Mr. Howitt with the journals and letters dug up in the cache at Cooper's Creek. I was anxiously waiting his arrival. Dr. Macadam was also there, and appeared confused, as if he had been up all night. He insisted on dragging me on to the Governor's house, four miles from Melbourne, Heaven only knows with what object. With some difficulty I obtained from him possession of the bundle of papers, and deposited them for safety in the hands of Dr. Wilkie. I have nothing more to say of Dr. Macadam, except that I sincerely trust it may never be my fortune to come in contact with him again, in any official business whatever. He is a man of unbounded confidence in his own powers, ready to undertake many things at the same time; and would not, I suspect, shrink from including the honorary governorship of the colony, if the wisdom of superior authority were to place it at his disposal.


The attempt to reach South Australia and Adelaide by Mount Hopeless. Mistake of selecting that Route. Mr. Wills's Journals from the 23rd of April to the 29th of June, 1861. Adventures with the Natives. Discovery of Nardoo as a Substitute for Food. Mr. Burke and King go in search of Natives as a last resource. Mr. Wills left alone in the Desert. The Last Entry in his Journal.

ON the morning of Thursday, the 23rd of April, 1861, Mr. Burke, my son, and King, being refreshed and strengthened by the provisions they found at Cooper's Creek, again resumed their journey homewards. It was an unfortunate resolve of Burke's, to select the route to the Adelaide district by Mount Hopeless, instead of returning by the Darling. King says, "Mr. Wills and I were of opinion that to follow Brahe was the best mode of proceeding; but Mr. Burke had heard it stated positively at the meeting of the Royal Society, that there were South Australian settlers within one hundred miles of Cooper's Creek in the direction he proposed to take;" and by this very questionable assertion, without evidence, his mind was biassed. There was, in fact, nothing to recommend the route by Mount Hopeless, while everything was in favour of that by the Darling. Blanche Water, the nearest police-station on the Adelaide line, was distant between four and five hundred miles. The one road they knew nothing of, the other was familiar to them. The camels, too, would have plucked up spirit on returning after the others on the old track. It is true that Brahe's false statement of the condition of his party held out no encouragement that they might be able to overtake him; but there was a chance that a new party might even then be coming up, or that the laggard Wright would be on the advance at last, as proved to be the fact. A Melbourne paper, commenting on these points, had the following remarks, which were as just as they were doubly painful, being delivered after the event:—

Wills and King it appears were desirous of following their track out from Menindie, which would unquestionably have been the wiser course; but Mr. Burke preferred striking for the South Australian stations, some of which, he had been informed by the Royal Committee of Exploration, were only one hundred and fifty miles from Cooper's Creek. It was a most unfortunate and fatal matter for Mr. Burke that these Royal people had anything whatever to do with his movements.

He made two attempts to strike in the direction in which they had assured him he would easily reach a settled district, and twice was he driven back for want of water. It was a fatal mistake on his part to follow the suggestion of these ready advisers. The practical impressions of Wills or King were worth a world of theoretical conjectures and philosophic presumption. But it seems to have been decreed that Burke should have favoured the former instead of the latter; the consequences of which were that himself and poor Wills were to perish miserably.

. . .

Much as I approve of and admire my son's steady obedience to his leader, I cannot but regret and wonder that in this particular instance he was not more resolute in remonstrance. It bears out what I said to Mr. Burke on taking leave of him: "If you ask his advice, take it; but he will never offer it; and should he see you going to destruction, he will follow you without a murmur."

The party, before they left Cooper's Creek, buried my son's journals in the cache, with the subjoined note from Mr. Burke, which were dug out and brought up by Brahe.

Depot 2, Cooper's Creek Camp 65.

The return party from Carpentaria, consisting of myself, Wills, and King (Gray dead), arrived here last night and found that the depot party had only started on the same day. We proceed on, to-morrow, slowly down the creek towards Adelaide by Mount Hopeless, and shall endeavour to follow Gregory's track; but we are very weak. The two camels are done up, and we shall not be able to travel faster than four or five miles a day. Gray died on the road, from exhaustion and fatigue. We have all suffered much from hunger. The provisions left here will, I think, restore our strength. We have discovered a practicable route to Carpentaria, the chief position of which lies in the 140 degrees of east longitude. There is some good country between this and the Stony Desert. From thence to the tropics the land is dry and stony. Between the Carpentaria a considerable portion is rangy, but well watered and richly grassed. We reached the shores of Carpentaria on the 11th of February, 1861. Greatly disappointed at finding the party here gone.

(Signed) ROBERT O'HARA BURKE, Leader.

April 22, 1861.

P.S. The camels cannot travel, and we cannot walk, or we should follow the other party. We shall move very slowly down the creek.

. . .

My son's journal is now written in a more complete and consecutive form. He had no instruments for observation or mapping, so that his time and mind were concentrated on the one employment.


The advance party of the V.E.E., consisting of Burke, Wills, and King (Gray being dead), having returned from Carpentaria, on the 21st April, 1861, in an exhausted and weak state, and finding that the depot party left at Cooper's Creek had started for the Darling with their horses and camels fresh and in good condition, deemed it useless to attempt to overtake them, having only two camels, both done up, and being so weak themselves as to be unable to walk more than four or five miles a day. Finding also that the provisions left at the depot for them would scarcely take them to Menindie, they started down Cooper's Creek for Adelaide, via Mount Hopeless, on the morning of 23rd April, 1861, intending to follow as nearly as possible, the route taken by Gregory. By so doing they hoped to be able to recruit themselves and the camels whilst sauntering slowly down the creek, and to have sufficient provisions left to take them comfortably, or at least without risk, to some station in South Australia.

Their equipment consists of the following articles:—Flour, 50 pounds; sugar, 60 pounds; rice, 20 pounds; oatmeal, 60 pounds; jerked meat, 25 pounds; ginger, 2 pounds; salt, 1 pound.—[Then follow some native words with their meanings.]

From Depot.

Tuesday, 23rd April, 1861.—Having collected together all the odds and ends that seemed likely to be of use to us, in addition to provisions left in the plant, we started at 9.15 A.M., keeping down the southern bank of the creek; we only went about five miles, and camped at 11.30 on a billibong, where the feed was pretty good. We find the change of diet already making a great improvement in our spirits and strength. The weather is delightful, days agreeably warm, but the nights very chilly. The latter is more noticeable from our deficiency in clothing, the depot party having taken all the reserve things back with them to the Darling.—To Camp 1.

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