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3-238 (Original)

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author,male,Stuart, John McDouall,50 addressee
Narrative Discourse
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Plaint Text :
Private Written
Fitzpatrick, 1958
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SATURDAY, 10th March, Milne Springs: - At half past 11 last night it began to rain, and continued doing so nearly all day. Wind south-east.
Sunday, 11th March, Milne Springs: - About 10 o'clock last night we were flooded with water, although upon rising ground, and were obliged to move our camp to the top of a small hill. It rained all night and morning, but there are signs of a break in the clouds. During the day it has rained at intervals. The creek is coming down very rapidly, covering all the valley with a sheet of water.
Monday, 12th March, Milne Springs : - A few heavy showers during the night, but now there seems a chance of a fine day, which will enable us to get our provisions dried again. The country is so boggy that I cannot proceed to- day, but if it continues fair I shall attempt it to-morrow morning. This rain is a great boon to me, as it will give me both feed and water for my horses, and if it has gone to the north-west it will save me a great deal of time looking for water. [...]
Friday, 16th March, The Peake. - Saddled and started to cross the Peake about three miles to the south-west, but had a fearful job in doing so, the banks being so boggy, and the current so strong. The horses could hardly keep on their feet, and most of them were up to their saddle-flaps, and some under water altogether. One poor old fellow we were obliged to leave in it, as he was unable to get out, and we were unable to help him, although we tried for hours. [...]
Saturday, 17th March, Kekwick Springs. [...] Started on a north-west course for the Neale. At fifteen miles struck it, and changed to the west to a creek coming south from the stony rises. The banks of the Neale are very boggy. The first four miles to-day were along the top of a sandy rise, with swampy flats on each side, with a number of reeds growing in them, also rushes and water-grass. [337] At four miles was a strong rise, but before we arrived at it we had to cross one of the swamps, in which we encountered great difficulty. After many turnings and twistings, and being bogged up to the shoulders, we managed to get through all safe. It was fearfully hard work. For three miles, on the top of a stony rise, the country is poor (stones on the top of gypsum deposit), but after that it gradually improves, and towards the creek it becomes a good salt-bush country [...]
Monday, 19th March, Neale River. - Rained during the night, and looks very stormy this morning. Followed the Neale round to where it goes through the gap in Hanson range; in places it was rather boggy, but good travelling in this wet weather - firmer than I expected. We had much difficulty in crossing some of the side creeks.
Thursday, 22nd March, Side Creek of the Neale River. - Wind south-west; clear sky. I intended to have gone northwest from this point, but, in attempting to cross the creek, we found it impassable. My horse got bogged at the first start, and we had some difficulty in getting him out. We were obliged to follow the creek westward for seven miles, where it passes between two high hills connected with the range. We managed at last, with great labour and difficulty; to get across without accident. At this place four creeks join 'the main one, and spread over a mile in breadth, with upwards of twenty boggy water-courses; water running. It has taken us five hours, from the time we started, to cross it. The principal creek comes from the south-west. I ascended the two hills to get a view of the surrounding country, and I could see the creek coming from a long way off in that direction. At this point the range seems broken or detached into numerous small ranges and isolated hills. I now changed my course to north-west, over table land of a light-brown colour, with stones on the surface; the vegetation was springing all over it and looking beautifully green. At six miles on this course camped on a myall creek. The work for the horses has been so very severe to-day that I have been induced to camp sooner than I intended. Wind south. 
Friday, 23rd March, Myall Creek. - Wind south. Started on the same course, north-west. [...] [338]
Saturday, 24th March, Large Gum-Tree Creek. - Found it impossible to cross the Neale here; the banks were too boggy and steep. We therefore followed it round on a west course for three miles, and found that it came a little more from the north. Changed to 2900, after trying in vain to cross the creek at this point. At about four or five miles south-south-west from this point there are two high peaks of a low range. The higher one I have named 'Mount Ben,' and the range 'Head's Range'; its general bearing is northwest to opposite this point; it turns then more to the west. I can see another spur further to the west, trending northwest. At four miles and a half after leaving we found a ford, and got the horses across all safe. I then changed to the north-west again, through a scrubby country - mulga, acacia, hakea, salt bush, and numerous others, with a plentiful supply of grass. The soil is of a red sandy nature, very loose, and does not retain water on the surface. We had great difficulty in getting through, many places being so very thick with dead mulga. We have seen no water since we left the creek. Distance, eighteen miles. I was obliged to camp without water for ourselves. As we crossed the Neale we saw fish in it of a good size, about eight inches long, from which I should say that the water is permanent. I shall have to run to the west to-morrow, for there is no appearance of this scrubby country terminating. I must have a whole day of it.
Sunday, 25th March, Mulga Scrub. - I can see no termination, on this course, to this thick scrub. I can scarcely see one hundred yards before me. I shall therefore bear to the west, cut the Neale River, and see what sort of country is in that direction. At ten miles made it; the water still running, but not so rapidly. The gum-trees still existed in its bed, and there were large pools of water on the side courses. We had the same thick scrub to within a quarter of a mile of the creek, where we met a line of red sand hills covered with a spinifex. The range on the south-west side of the creek seemed to terminate here, and become low table land, apparently covered with a thick scrub, the creek coming more from the north. I did not like the appearance of the spinifex, an indication of desert to the westward. Camped on the creek. [339] Wind north-west; heavy clouds from the same direction.
Monday, 26th March, The Neale River West. - I am obliged to remain here to-day to repair damages done to the packs and bags, which have been torn all to pieces; it will take the whole of the day to put them in order [...]
Wednesday, 28th March, West Neale River. - Started on a north course to get through the mulga scrub. At ten miles could see the range to the north-east. The scrubby land now became sand hills; I could see no high ground on ahead, the scrub becoming thicker; it seemed to be a country similar to that I passed through on my south-east course (first journey), and I think is a continuation of it. I therefore changed my course to the north-east range, bearing 359. After five miles through the same description of country, mulga scrub with plenty of grass, we arrived at water, where three creeks join; one from the south-west, one West-Northwest, and the other from about north-west. The water was still running in the one from the west-north-west with large long water holes; also water holes in the other two; gum-trees in the creek. I suppose this to be the Frew; excellent feed on the banks of the creek up to the range, which is stony. I ascended the table range in order to have a view of the country round. To this point the range comes from east-south-east, but here it takes a turn to the east of north, all flat-topped and stony, with mulga bushes on the top and sides; the rocks are of a light, flinty nature. At about six miles north the country seems to be open and stony. That country I shall steer for to-morrow.
Thursday, 29th March, The Frew. - Started on a north course. At one mile, after crossing a stony hill with mulga, we suddenly came upon the creek again; it winds round the hill. Here another branch joins it from the north, the other coming from the east of north. Along the base of the range there were very large water holes in both branches. The natives had evidently camped here last night; their fires were still alight; they seemed only just to have left. From the numerous fires I should think there had been a great number of natives here. All round about in every direction were numerous tracks. We also observed a number of winter habitations on the banks of the creek; also a large native grave, composed of sand, earth, wood, and stones. [340] It was of a circular form, about four feet and a half high, and twenty to twenty-four yards in circumference. The mulga continued for about six miles; but at three miles we again crossed the north branch of the creek, coming now from the north-west. The mulga was not thick except on the top of the rises, where splendid grass was growing all through it. We now came upon the open stony country, with a few mulga creeks. There was a little salt bush, but an immense quantity of green grass, growing about a foot high, which gave to the country a beautiful appearance. It seemed to be the same all round as far as I could see. At fourteen miles we struck the other branch, where it joined, with splendid reaches of water, to the main one, which now came from the west of north, and continued to where our line cut the east branch. This seems to be the place where it takes its rise. Camped for the night. The whole of the country that we have travelled through to-day is the best for grass that I have ever gone through. I have nowhere seen its equal. From the number of natives, from there being winter and summer habitations, and from the native grave, I am led to conclude the water there is permanent. The gumtrees are large. I saw kangaroo-tracks.
Friday, 30th March, Small Branch of the Frew.
We then ascended the low range for which I had been steering. Four miles from the creek it is rough and stony, composed of igneous rock, with scrub, mulga, and plenty of grass quite to the top. To continue this course would lead me again into the mulga scrub, where I do not want to get if I can help it. It is far worse than guiding a vessel at sea; the compass requires to be constantly in hand. I again changed to the north, which appears to be open in the distance. I could see another range of flat-topped hills. After crossing over several small spurs coming from the range, and a number of small creeks, volcanic, and stony, we struck another large gum creek coming from the south of west, and running to the south-east. It was a fine creek. These courses of water spread over a grassy plain a mile wide; the water holes were long and deep, with numerous plants growing on their banks, indicating permanent water. [341] The wild oats on the bank of the creek were four feet high. The country gone over to-day, although stony, was completely covered with grass and salt-bush; it was even better than that passed yesterday. Some of the grass resembled the drake, some the wild wheat, and some rye - the same as discovered by Captain Sturt [...] 
Sunday, 1st April, The Stevenson. - I find to-day that my right eye, from the long continuation of bad eyes, is now become useless to me for taking observations. I now see two suns instead of one, which has led me into an error of a few miles. I trust to goodness my other eye will not become the same; as long as it remains good, I can do. [...]
Monday, 2nd April, 'The Stevenson. [...] The first three miles of to-day's journey were over good- country; it then became rather scrubby, with numerous small creeks and valleys running to the east. Plenty of grass and salt-bush, with gravel, ironstone, and lime on the surface. 
Tuesday, 3rd April, Gum Creek, South of Range. - Ascended the hill at three miles from last night's camp. The country very rough, stony, and scrubby to the- base. The view from it is very extensive. I have named it 'Mount Beddome', after S. Beddome, Esq., of Adelaide. To the west is another broken range, about fifteen miles distant, of a dark-red colour, running nearly north and south. The- country between is apparently open, with patches of scrub. A gum creek comes from the south-west and runs some distance to the north-east; it then turns to the east. In the distant west appears a dense scrub. On a bearing of 330° there is a large isolated table hill, for which I shall shape my course, to see if I can get an entrance that way.- To the north are a number of broken hills and peaks with scrub between; they are of every shape and size. To the east another flat-topped range; country between also scrubby;' apparently open. Close to the range, distant about twenty miles saw hills in the far distance; to the east another flat-topped small range; between it and the other the creek seems to run. The highest point of it bears 800, and I have named it 'Mount Daniel,' after Mr. Daniel Kekwick, of Adelaide. [...] -
Wednesday, 4th April, Mount Humphries [...] I sent Kekwick to examine the creek that I saw coming from the north. [342] He says there is plenty of water to serve our purpose.
The creek is very large, with the finest gum-trees we have yet seen, all sizes and heights. This seems to be a favourite place for the natives to camp, as there are eleven worleys in one encampment. We saw here a number of new parrots, the black cockatoo, and numerous other birds. The creek runs over a space of about two miles, coming from the west; the bed sandy. After leaving it, on a bearing of 329°, for nine miles, we passed over a plain of as fine a country as any man would wish to see - a beautiful red soil covered with grass a foot high; after that it becomes a little sandy. At fifteen miles we got into some sand hills, but the feed was still most abundant. I have not passed through such splendid country since I have been in the colony. I only hope it may continue. The creek I have named the 'Finke', after William Finke, Esq., of Adelaide, my sincere and tried friend, and one of the liberal supporters of the different explorations I have had the honour to lead [...]
Friday, 6th April, Small Gum Creek in Range of Hills. 
We passed through a few patches of good grassy country. In the sand hills the oak is getting more plentiful. We were three-quarters of an hour in crossing the creek, and obtained an observation of the sun, 116° 26' 15". We then proceeded on the same course towards the remarkable pillar, through high, heavy sand hills, covered with spinifex, and, at twelve miles from last night's camp, arrived at it. It is a pillar of sandstone, standing on a hill upwards of one hundred feet high. From the base of the pillar to its top is about one hundred and fifty feet, quite perpendicular; and it is twenty feet wide by ten feet deep, with two small peaks on the top. I have named it 'Chambers Pillar,' in honour of James Chambers, Esq., who, with William Finke, Esq., has been my great supporter in all my explorations. To the north and north-east of it are numerous remarkable hills, which have a very striking effect in the landscape; they resemble nothing so much as a number of old castles in ruins; they are standing in the midst of sand hills. Proceeded, still on the same course, through the sand rises, spinifex, and low sandstone hills, at the foot of which we saw some rain water, where I camped. [343] To the south-west are some high hills, through which I think the Finke comes. [...]
Monday, 9th April, The Hugh Gum Creek. -.. On the north-west the view is intercepted by a high, broken range, with two very remarkable bluffs about the centre. I shall direct my course to the east bluff, which is apparently the higher of the two. In the intermediate country are three lower ranges, between which are flats of green grass, and red sand hills. To the west are grassy flats next to the creek; beyond these are seen the tops of distant ranges and broken hills; at about six miles the Hugh seems to turn more to the north, towards a very rough range of red sandstone. We then descended into a grassy flat with a few gum-trees. We have had a very great difficulty in crossing the range, and now I am again stopped by another low range of the same description, which is nearly perpendicular - huge masses of red sandstone on its side, and in the valley a' number of old native camps. After following the range three miles, we. at last found out a place to cross it. Although this is not half the height of James range, we encountered far more difficulty; the scrub was very dense, a great quantity having withered-and fallen down: we could scarcely get the horses to face it. Our course was also intercepted by deep, perpendicular ravines, which we were obliged to round after -a great deal of trouble, having our saddle-bags torn to pieces, and our skin and clothes in the same predicament. We arrived at the foot nearly naked, and got into open sandy rises and valleys, with mulga and plenty of grass, among which there is some spinifex growing. At sundown, after having gone about eight miles further, we made a large gum creek, in which we found some water; it is very broad, with a sand and gravel bottom. Camped, both men and -horses being very tired. [...] 
Wednesday, 11th April, Bend of the Hugh.. [...] I hoped to-day to have gained the top of the bluff, which is still seven or eight miles off, and appears to be so very rough that I anticipate a deal of difficulty in crossing it. I am forced to halt at this bend of the creek, in consequence of the- little mare becoming so lame that she is unable to proceed further to-day. Our hands are very bad from being torn by the scrub, and the flies are a perfect torment. Indications of scurvy beginning to show themselves upon us. [344] Wind west; cool night. - 
Thursday 12th April, The Hugh. - Started for the bluff. At eight miles we again struck the creek coming from the west, and several other gum creeks coming from the range and joining it. 
We have now entered the lower hills of the range. Again have we travelled through a splendid country for grass, but as we approached the creek it became a little stony. At twelve miles we found a number of springs in the range. Here I obtained an observation of the sun. As we approached near the bluff, our route became very difficult; we could not get up the creek for precipices, and were obliged to turn in every direction. About two miles from where I obtained the observation, we arrived with great difficulty at the foot of the bluff; it has taken us all the afternoon. I expected to have gone to the top of it to-night, but it is too late. It will take half a day, it is so high and rough. We are camped at a good spring, where I have found a very remarkable palm-trees, with light-green fronds ten feet long, having small leaves a quarter of an inch in breadth, and about eight inches in length, and a quarter of an inch apart, growing from each side, and coming to a sharp point. They spread out like the top of the grass-tree, and the fruit has a large kernel about the size of an egg, with a hard shell; the inside has the taste of a cocoa-nut, but when roasted is like a potato. Here we have also the india-rubber tree, the cork-tree, and several new plants. This is the only range that I have met with since leaving the Flinders range. I have named it the 'McDonnell Range', after his Excellency the Governor-in-Chief of South Australia, as a token of my gratitude for his kindness to me on many occasions [...] 
Sunday, 15th -April, The North Gorge of McDonnell Range. - I ascended the high hill on the east side of the gorge; the atmosphere being much clearer, I got a better view of the country. To the north-west, between the Mc Donnell range and the conical hill north-north-west, is large plain, apparently scrub; no hills on the horizon, but- light shade in the far distance; the conical hill bears 340° from this; it appears to be high. [345] From the foot of this, for about five miles, is an open grassy country, with a few small patches of bushes. A number of gum creeks come from the ranges and seem to empty themselves in the plains. The country in the ranges is as fine a pastoral hill-country as a man would wish to possess; grass to the top of the hills, and abundance of water through the whole of the ranges.
Monday, 16th April, The North Gorge of McDonnell Range. - Started at 9 o'clock to cross the scrub for the distant high peak. For five miles the plain was open and well grassed: afterwards it became thick, with mulga bushes and other scrubs. At twenty miles we again encountered the spinifex, which continued until we camped after dark. Distance, thirty miles. Met with no creek or watercourse after leaving the McDonnell ranges. 
Tuesday, 17th April, In the Scrub. - Got an early start, and continued through the scrub and spinifex on the same course, 340°. At three miles passed a small stony hill, about two miles to the west of our course. At eighteen miles saw to the west two prominent bluff hills, and two or three small ones, about ten miles distant from us. At thirty-two miles crossed a strong rise. There are three reap-hook hills about three miles west, their steep side facing the south. At sundown reached the hills. At two miles passed a small sandy gum creek, the only watercourse we have seen between the two ranges. Followed the range to the north-west till after dark, hoping to find a gum creek coming from the range, but without success; nothing but rocky and sandy watercourses. Camped. The poor horses again without water; I trust that I shall find some for them in the morning; if not, I shall have to return to the McDonnell range [...] Wednesday, 18th April, Under the High Peak, Mount Freeling. - At daybreak sent Kekwick in search of - water, while I ascended the high mount to see if any could be seen from that place. To my great delight I beheld a little in a creek on the other side of the range, bearing 113°, about a mile and a half. I find this is not quite the highest point of the range; there is another hill, still higher, about fifteen miles further to the north-north-west. About two miles off I can see a gum creek looking very green, coming from the range in the direction in which I have sent Kekwick, where I hope he will find water. [346] The country from west to northeast is a mass of hills and broken ranges; to the south-west is another hill, with a plain of scrub between. To the southeast scrub, with tops of hills in the far distance. Brinkley Bluff bears 166°, and Mount Hay 186°. Returned to the camp, and find to my great satisfaction that Kekwick has discovered some water in the creek about two miles off. I am very glad of it, for I am sure that some of my horses would not have stood the journey back without it. I must not leave this range without endeavouring to find a permanent water, as no rain seems to have fallen to the north of us; everything is so dry, one would think it was the middle of summer. The sun is also very hot, but the nights and mornings are cool. [...] 
Saturday, 21st April, Gum Creek, East Side of Mount Freeing. - Started at half-past seven across the scrub to another high hill. For seven miles the scrub is open, and the land beautifully grassed. At twelve miles from the camp we crossed another gum creek, coming from the range; as far as I could see it ran to the north-east. After seven miles the scrub became much thicker. We had great difficulty in getting through, from the quantity of dead timber, which has torn our saddle-bags and clothes to pieces. There are a number of gum-trees, and the new tree that was found on, Captain Sturt's expedition, 1844, but mulga predominates. At fourteen miles we struck a large gum plain, but after a short time again entered the scrub. At about twenty-two miles met another arm of the gum plains, with large granite rocks nearly level with the surface. We found rain water in the holes of these rocks. At thirty-two miles crossed the sandy bed of a large gum creek divided into a number of channels; too dark to see any water. Four miles further on, camped on a small gum creek with a little rain water; the creeks are running to the north-east. The soil is of a red sandy colour: - the grass most abundant throughout the whole day's journey. Occasionally we met with a few hundred yards of spinifex. Wind south-east. Native tracks quite fresh in the scrub and plain; we also passed several old worleys. [347]
Sunday, 22nd April, Small Gum Creek, under Mount Stuart, Centre of Australia : - To-day I find from my observations of the sun, 111° 00' 30'', that I am now camped in the centre of Australia. I have marked a tree and planted the British flag there. There is a high mount about two miles and a half to the north-north-east. I wish it had been in the centre; but on it to-morrow I will raise a cone of stones, and plant the flag there, and name it 'Central Mount Stuart.' We have been in search of permanent water to-day, but cannot find any. I hope from the top of Central Mount Stuart to find something good to the north-west. Wind south. Examined a large creek; can find no surface water, but got some by scratching in the sand. It is a large creek divided into many channels, but they are all filled with sand; splendid grass all round this camp. 
Monday, 23rd April, Centre. - Took Kekwick and the flag, and went to the top of the mount, but found it to be much higher and more difficult of ascent than I anticipated. After a deal of labour, slips, and knocks, we at last arrived on the top. It is quite as high as Mount Serle, if not higher. The view to the north is over a large plain of gums, mulga, and spinifex, with watercourses running through it. The large gum creek that we crossed winds round this hill in a north-east direction; at about ten 'miles it is joined- by another. After joining they take a course more north, and I lost sight of them in the far-distant plain. To the north-north-east is the termination of the hills; to the north-east, east and south-east are broken ranges, and to the north-north-west the ranges on the west side of the plain terminate. To the north-west are broken ranges; and to the west is a very high peak, between which and this place to the southwest are a number of isolated hills. Built a large cone of stones, in the centre of which I placed a pole with the British flag nailed to it. Near the top of the cone I placed a small bottle, in which there is a slip of paper, with our signatures to, it, stating by whom it was raised. We then gave three hearty cheers for the flag, the emblem of civil and religious liberty, and may it be a sign to the natives that the dawn of liberty, civilization, and Christianity is about to break upon them. [...]