Australian Access Federation

You are here: Home Corpora Corpus of Oz Early English 3-201 (Text)

3-201 (Text)

Item metadata
author,male,Wills, William John,26 addressee
Narrative Discourse
Word Count :
Plaint Text :
Private Written
Fitzpatrick, 1958
Document metadata

3-201-plain.txt — 6 KB

File contents

Cooper's Creek to Carpentaria
Field-Book No. I
SUNDAY, Dec. z6, 1860. - The two horses having been shod, and our reports finished, we started at forty minutes past six a.m. for Eyre's Creek, the party consisting of Mr. Burke, myself, King, and Charley, having with us six camels, one horse and three months' provisions. We followed down the creek to the point where the sandstone ranges cross the creek, and were accompanied to that place by Brahe, who would return to take charge of the Depot. Down to this point the banks of the creek are very rugged and stony, but there is a tolerable supply of grass and saltbush in the vicinity. A large tribe of blacks came pestering us to go to their camp and have a dance, which we declined. They were very troublesome, and nothing but the threat to shoot them will keep them away; they are, however, easily frightened, and although fine-looking men, decidedly not of a warlike disposition. They show the greatest inclination to take whatever they can, but will run no unnecessary risk in so doing. They seldom carry any weapons, except a shield and a large kind of boomerang, which I believe they use for killing rats, &c.; sometimes, but very seldom, they have a large spear; reed spears seem to be quite unknown to them.  They are undoubtedly a finer and better looking race of men than the blacks on the Murray and Darling, and more peaceful, but in other respects I believe they did not compare favourably with them, for, from the little we have seen of them, they appear to be mean-spirited and contemptible in every respect.
Monday, Dec. 17. - We continued to follow down the creek. Found its course very crooked, and the channel frequently dry for a considerable distance, and then forming into magnificent waterholes, abounding in waterfowl of all kinds. The country on each side is more open than on the upper part of the creek. The soil on the plains is of a light earthy nature, supporting abundance of saltbush and grass. Most of the plains are lightly timbered, and the ground is finer, and not cracked up, like at the head of the creek. Left Camp No. 67 at ten minutes to six a.m., having breakfasted before leaving. We followed the creek along from point to point, at first in a direction W.N.W. for about twelve miles, then about N.W. At about noon we passed the last water, a short distance beyond which the creek runs out on a polygonum (Polygonum Cunninghami) flat; but the timber was so large and dense, that it deceived us into the belief that there was a continuation of the channel; on crossing the polygonum ground to where we expected to find the creek we became aware of our mistake. Not thinking it advisable to chance the existence of water a-head, we camped at the end of a large but shallow sheet of water in the sandy bed of the creek. The hole was about 150 links broad, and feet deep in most places. In most places the temperature of the water was almost incredibly high, which induced me to try it in several places. The mean of two on the shady side of the creek gave 97.4 deg. As may be imagined, this water tasted disagreeably warm, but we soon cooled some in water-bags, and, thinking that it would be interesting to know what we might call cool, I placed the thermometer in a pannikin containing some that appeared delightfully cool, almost cold in fact; its temperature was, to our astonishment, 78 deg. At half-past six, when a strong wind was blowing from south, and temperature of air had fallen to 80 deg., the lowest temperature of water in the hose, that had been exposed to the full effect of evaporation for several hours, was 72 deg.  This water for drinking appeared positively cold - too low a temperature to be pleasant under the circumstances. A remarkable southerly squall came on between five and six p.m., with every appearance of rain. The sky however soon cleared, but the wind continued to blow in a squally and irregular manner from the same quarter at evening.
Wednesday, Dec. 19. Started at a quarter past eight am. Leaving what seemed to be the end of Cooper's Creek, we took a course a little to the north of west, intending to try and obtain water in some of the creeks that Stunt mentioned that he had crossed, and at the same time to see whether they were connected with Cooper's Creek, as appeared most probable from the direction in which we found the latter running, and from the manner in which it had been breaking up into small channels flowing across the plains in a N. and N.N.W. direction. We left on our right the flooded flats on which this branch of the creek runs out, and soon came to a series of sand-ridges, the directions of which were between N. 0.5 W. and N.N.W. The country is well grassed, and supports plenty of saltbush. Many of the valleys are liable to be inundated by the overflow of the main creek. They have watercourse and polygonum flats, bordered with box-trees, but we met with no holes fit to hold a supply of water. At about ten miles we crossed a large earthy flat, lightly timbered with box and gum. The ground was very bad for travelling on, being much cracked up, and intersected by innumerable channels, which continually carried off the water of a large creek. Some of the valleys beyond this were very pretty, the ground being sound, and covered with fresh plants, which made them look beautifully green. At fifteen miles, we halted where two large plains joined. Our attention had been attracted by some red-breasted cockatoos, pigeons, a crow, and several other birds, whose presence made us feel sure that there was water not far off; but our hopes were soon destroyed by finding a claypan just drying up. It contained just sufficient liquid to make the clay boggy.  At ten minutes to seven p.m. we moved on, steering straight for Eyre's Creek, N.W. by N., intending to make a good night's journey, and avoid the heat of the day; but at a mile and a half we came to a creek, which looked so well that we followed it for a short distance, and finding two or three waterholes of good milky water, we camped for the night. This enabled me to secure an observation of the eclipse of Jupiter's 1 satellite as well as some latitude observations. The night was so calm that I used the water as a horizon, but I find it much more satisfactory to take the mercury, for several reasons.
Thursday, Dec. 21