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4-369 (Original)

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addressee author,male,Wells, Lawrence A.,37
Narrative Discourse
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Private Written
Calvert, 1902
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Friday, Jan. 1. - There being no feed. at "Ngowallarra," we were obliged to continue on to-day, although the camels, in their present condition, would have benefited by a day's rest. Now travelling direct for "Tallingurr" rock-hole, we made a start at 6 a.m. My camel is still unfit to be ridden; I found difficulty in getting him along, even by leading him. From sunrise we experienced a suffocating heat, and I found the eight (8) miles walk over the sand as much as I could stand. Camped at 10 a.m., as usual, on poor feed - a species of stunted, broad-leaved wattle bush (acacia) and a few Leichardt trees.
Saturday, Jan. 2. - Continuing on same course, Bejah and self riding and walking in turn and still leading the weakest camel, we reached "Taffingurr" at 10 a.m., and found that since we were last here there had been a good thunderstorm. The rock-hole we had cleansed out was full of delicious water, and there was abundance of young green grass on the flat, which the camels eat eagerly.
Making the native boy a few presents, I liberated him and told him he might go if be wished Bejah is under the impression that he will stay with us and accompany us to the river, but I am doubtful of this, for we are now on the boundary of his country.
Sunday, Jan. 3. - The native boy slept by the fire last night, but this morning he had fled.
Leaving "Tallingurr" at sunrise, we travelled direct for the claypan found in November by myself and Trooper Pilmer, reaching it at twelve (12) miles. We found sufficient water for the camels, and also a little feed.
Monday, Jan. 4. - Now bearing North 10deg. East, we travelled direct to the spot where I left water in a pair of kegs on the 19th November. We reached it at nine (9) miles. Taking the kegs we then travelled four and a-half miles further, reaching "Kammamarra Spring" at noon. Here we got for the camels the first good feed since leaving "Kallaida" Cattle Station last month.
Tuesday, Jan. 5. - Getting away early and now clear of the sandridges and porcupine, we travelled to "Kalhaida," a distance of about twenty-two (22) miles.
Wednesday, Jan. 6. - Travelled between river flats and spurs from the St. George Range to avoid flooded ground and numerous billabongs.
Camped at fifteen (15) miles.
Thursday, Jan. 7. - Travelled about twenty (20) miles, camping on the bank of a large creek emptying into the Fitzroy River. [48]
Friday Jan. 8. - Travelled to Christmas Creek, crossing at the same point as on our outward trip. Did twenty (20) miles for day.
Saturday, Jan. 9. - Reached Mt. Campbell (" Gogo" Cattle Station), and were kindly received by Mr. Livingstone, who expressed sympathy for us in our disappointment.
A terrific storm occurred during the night, hasting about an hour; four inches of rain fell.
Travelled fifteen (15) miles for day.
Sunday, Jan. 10.- - Owing to the rain and the boggy nature of the country, we were unable to move to-day.
Monday, Jan. 11. - With difficulty, and after bogging the camels in attempting to cross a creek, we managed to reach the Telegraph Station at seven (7) miles.
Sent lengthy report of our trip and adventures to Adelaide.
The rainy season having set in, it will be impossible to move from here for some weeks; but the camels will now improve in condition, as feed will come on fast.
From Jan. 12 to Feb. 20. - Camped at Telegraph Station, Upper Fitzroy. In constant telegraphic communication with Mr. A. T. Magarey. During this time twenty (20) inches of rain fell, the country being in a state of flood. The camels have all become in excellent order, and are fit to encounter the desert.
From Feb. 21 to March 14. - Having telegraphed my readiness and wish to again continue the search for our friends, I was detained by advice from Adelaide to the effect that it was considered probable that our friends had been in the vicinity of the Oakover, and advising me not to start until Mr. Rudall's return, when it was expected that the mystery of their whereabouts would be cleared up.
Monday, March 15. - As Mr. Rudall has returned unsuccessful, I have decided to continue the search.
Tuesday, March 16. - Preparing for further search for our friends.
The camels are all in good condition, with the exception of one animal that has been unwell for some time. He appears to have been slightly poisoned. [49] [...]
Wednesday, March 17. - Left the Telegraph Station at noon, accompanied by Mr. Keartland Trainor, Bejah, Said Ameer, and a native boy, " Sandy," and travelled to the Police Station, five (5) miles distant, where we crossed the Fitzroy River. On arrival I found that the police and trackers had left for the "Oscar Range" Station, the scene of a murder, and about six (6) miles distant. A notorious outlaw named "Pigeon," who was at one time a black tracker, had, with his gang, shot and speared a white man named Thomas Jasper, a man I had met in Queensland in 1885. This is the fourth white man this native has murdered. Equipped with firearms, he has been at large about two (2) years.
Thursday, March 18. - The trooper not having returned, I was unable to get a tracker from him, so have arranged for a native boy called "Dick" to accompany us, with the hope that by having the two for company to one another they may stay with us after we leave the river.
A messenger has returned from the scene of the murder, and states that the police have shot four (4) of "Pigeon's" gang, but that "Pigeon" himself escaped, with a Winchester rifle.
Friday, March 19. - Left Police Camp. Passing Blythe's Cattle Station and following a track keeping out from the river, we cut the main road to Derby at nine (9) miles, and followed same for seven (7) miles, camping on the bank of the River.
Saturday, March 20. - Travelled to "Quanbun" Station, distance fifteen (15) miles. The weather is still very hot, and the camels as yet are rather soft after their long spell.
Sunday, March 21 . - Waiting arrival of telegraphic messages from Mr. A. T. Magarey, in accordance with his wishes.
During the evening a native and his gin arrived with the expected messages.
Monday, March 22. - Sent the native messenger on return journey to the Telegraph Station with replies to telegrams. Left "Quanbun" at 7 a.m., travelling along the road for 17 miles, and camping at a small bluebush swamp.
Tuesday, March 23. - Travelled for thirteen (13) miles and reached "Noonkanbah" Station. Here I wrote letters to Adcock Bros., Derby, and to Faiz and Tagh Mahomet, of Geraldton, arranging for Said Ameer to return to Geraldton, via Derby. I also sent a telegram to Mr. A. T. Magarey, asking him to arrange for payment of wages due to Said Ameer, whom I shall not require, and am, therefore, sending back to Geraldton.
Shortly after our arrival here a native messenger from Upper Liverynga Station brought a letter from Mr. Rose, to the effect that Mr. Gregory, of "Gregory's Station," had brought news from the natives at his station that two (2) white men were seen beyond Mt. Arthur some time ago by desert natives, and these reported that one (1) white man and one (1) camel were then alive, and the other white man and one (1) camel were dead; also that the surviving white man had killed and eaten a native. Sent telegraph message to Adelaide to this effect, and have now decided to proceed at once to Gregory's Station to investigate the report.
Wednesday, March 24. - We experienced some difficulty in crossing the river this morning; the banks were steep and the cutting was damaged by the floods. Having lost two (2) hours in crossing, we then travelled to "Kallaida" hut and saw Mr. Mills, who gave me directions for the best route to Gregory's Station in order to avoid billabongs and flooded ground.
Travelled eight (8) miles from "Noonkanbah."
Thursday, March 25. - Travelled along open plains and river flats for twelve (12) miles, and rested during the middle of the day under an enormous baobab tree, the first I have seen. The trunk afforded good shade for us all. [50] Continued. on during the afternoon and camped, at twenty (20) miles, for the day, at a small stockyard on the bank of a billabong.
Friday, March 26. - Continued on over low sandstone ridges and patches of porcupine, noting many large baobab trees. Passing through a fence at ten (10) miles we entered "Myada" Run, resting, at fifteen (15) miles, at a large lagoon. Resuming our journey during the afternoon, we passed a boundary rider's hut, camping near the head station at twenty-two (22) miles.
Saturday, March 27. - Called at the station for directions, and travelled to Gregory's Station (17 miles).
The native who brought the news regarding the whites seen by desert natives is absent at Derby, but Mr. Gregory informs me he expects him back daily. I questioned other natives here, and they corroborate "Peter's" statement, but say they have only heard it through him. As there are no natives here who know the desert country or could speak to the natives there, Mr. Gregory, strongly advises me to await the return of Peter, who will be able to accompany me.
Sunday, March& 2&. - At Gregory's Station, getting all possible information from natives here.
Monday, Mai-eh 29. - The native, "Peter," returned from Derby during the afternoon. He states that be was amongst the first tribe of desert natives beyond Mt. Arthur (during the wet weather), from whence he came, as a child, with his mother, and that the desert natives told him about the white men, but he did not learn where they were last seen. He says the white man living was at a water called "Ngowallarra." This water, no doubt, is the identical one visited by Buchanan and myself in December, during our search, and I am doubtful of the veracity of the report. I believe the natives were referring to myself and Buchanan as the two (2) white men seen by them. Peter seems very hazy regarding that part of the statement which dealt with the killing of a native and the death of a white man.
Tuesday, March 30. - Making a start from Gregory's Station at 8 a.m., and taking with us the native, "Peter," and two (2) friends to accompany him on his return, we travelled up Nerrima Creek for ten (10) miles, camping on a good water-hole. There are many large, baobab trees here; we measured one, and the circumference of the trunk was sixty (60) feet,
Wednesday, March 31.- - Generally following along the channel of the creek, which is very crooked. Passed some fair water-holes, camping about three (3) miles from Mt. Arthur, which lies to the South-West of camp.
Travelled twenty (20) miles for day. Mr. Keartland was fortunate enough to bag a brace of turkeys just before camping.
Thursday, April 1. - Continued on up the channel. At five (5) miles we came to some springs, one of which is very fresh, and there are some peculiar-looking trees growing in close proximity to the water and around the springs, where the soil is very black and spongy, and covered with a thick mat of springy grass. The water is slightly warm, and the springs are a little above the level of the surrounding country. I believe these waters are artesian. They are situated about five (5) or six (6) miles to the South-East of Mount Arthur, and I believe the first white man to visit them was Mr. John Collins, of the "Oscar Range" Station, after whom I have named them.
This would be an excellent spot at which to plant the seeds of the date palm, but we have none to spare, as I purpose planting what few I have further afield. Finding we would lose time in waiting to fill our kegs here, I returned one (1) mile to the last fresh water-hole seen as we came along, gave all the camels water, and made another start. Travelling about South from the springs for four (4) miles, we rested during the hottest part of the day. During the afternoon we continued on for nine (9) miles, Peter acting as pilot, arriving at a native well at 5.50 p.m.
Travelled eighteen (18) miles for day. Mt. Arthur bears from here about North 350deg. East. I believe this well would give a good supply if dug out, but at present we are not in need of water.
Friday, April 2. - For the first mile Peter took us on a bearing of North 200deg. East to a small claypan which the natives had been scooping out at some time or other. Watered camels here, then bearing North £46deg. East, we travelled for seven (7) miles, reaching two remarkable hills, one with a crown at the top and the other flat-topped. Peter calls this place "Joal Joal" (Oraven Ord Hill). Mt. Tuckfleed (A. Forrest) bears 75deg. East.
Now bearing on the same course for a group of flat-topped hills, which we reached at four and a half (4 1/2) miles from "Joal Joal." Rested here during the beat, the sandridges being still very hot and trying for the camels. This range, which is of desert sandstone, extends East-South-East for about two (2) miles. Continuing our course until 6 p.m., we reached the end of a range of detached sandstone hillocks, feed here poor and scanty for the camels. Travelled six (6) miles for the afternoon, or eighteen and a-half (18 1/2) miles for the day.
After dark we noticed a fire on a high elevation bearing South-Easterly, probably the result of natives burning the porcupine, a daily occurrence with all these natives of the Great Sandy Desert. It enables them to track game more readily, and reduces the area of shelter for the porcupine wallabies.
Saturday, April 3 - The camels did badly here and tried to make off during the night.
Started at 6.20 a.m., now bearing for fire seen hast evening North 130deg. East for one and a-half (1 1/2) miles through hillocks of sandstone and sandridges, when a smoke rose on a bearing of North 154deg. East. Altering our course for this, we travelled for three and a-half (3 1/2) miles, when Peter, from a sandridge, said he could see some natives about a mile in advance, coming in our direction.
Keeping the camels out of sight behind the sandridge, we waited. until the natives had come within half-a-mile of us. Peter took off his clothes and, with his mates, went to meet them. I told him to explain that we were friendly, and were looking for our friends. [51] At a signal from Peter, we crossed the sandridge and went to meet them.
Peter, acting as interpreter, questioned them, and found they knew nothing of the death of any white men. I recognise one of these, of which there are four (4) young men and a boy, as the identical native Mr. Buchanan and self made the acquaintance of at "Tallingurr Rock Water," and who afterwards ran away from us at "Waddru Well." Through Peter I explained that I wanted two (2) of them to accompany me Southwards to the next tribe, that I would not molest any of the natives, and that I wanted to find two (2) white men who were lost; that if they would accompany me and get a native from the next tribe to the Southward, I would give them a tomahawk and a knife and feed them. The one who had before been with me, and another, whom he says is "Mabu," which means good or quiet, have agreed to go with us. They state that they are at present camped at "Tallingurr."
Travelling due South, we cut the old camel pad of December and January last, and followed same to "Tallingurr," which we reached at three (3) miles, having travelled eight (8) miles for day. There were a number of older natives at this water, also women and children.
I decided to camp, and allow the camels to take advantage of a little feed around here, endeavouring to get, in the meantime, some more information from these natives. They state that they have not been to "Ngowallarra" since I was last there, and have heard nothing of the report that any other whites had been there. They also affirm that no white men, except my party and my search expedition with Mr. Buchanan, have ever been through their country, but that several parties of whites had passed by the head of "Jurgurra Creek," travelling in the direction of Le Grange Bay. I made these inquiries because of Mr. Isdale's statement to the effect that he had travelled from Mt. Dockrell, in the Kimberley District, to Joanna Spring, and thence to the Oakover. On inquiry on the Fitzroy River, I ascertained that Isdale and party, after leaving Mt. Dockrell, called at Fossil Downs Station, or the Margaret River, and were afterwards camped between the St. George Bange and the Fitzroy, eventually turning up on the coast a little below Le Grange Bay. I think Mr. Isdale must have mistaken Joanna Spring for some other water a considerable distance from it. In a letter of his to Mr. John Collins, which I read, and in which Mr. Isdale gives a description of the country, he says that the sandridges are all running North and South. The true bearing of all these sandridges is 20deg. above West and below East between here and Joanna Spring.
Sunday, April 4. - Having watered all the camels, I allowed Peter and his mates to return to their country, sending a note with them to Mr. Gregory. With our new acquaintances, we left the rock-hole for "Tanndulha Well." In some of the flats I noted a fine species of soft grass growing amongst the porcupine. We reached the well at 11 a.m., at ten (10) miles, resting the camels until the afternoon; travelled then on to "Dillawuddi Rock-hole," reaching it at four (4) miles. We found it about half-full of water, containing in all about 200 gallons. Camped here, on a little good feed around the water and old native encampments.
Travelled for day fourteen (14) miles.
Monday, April 5. - Making a start at 6.25 a.m., we travelled direct for "Ngowallarra Well," reaching it at seven (7) miles, at 10 a.m. Apparently no one has been here since Mr. Buchanan and I left in January last. I am now convinced that the report circulated by the natives was in reference to our visit. I marked a Leichardt tree four (4) chains West of the well "L.A.W., 8." The latitude I make 19deg. 18min. 26sec. South.
Tuesday, April 6. - The camels did fairly well on the little feed around the water.
Leaving a pair of empty cases here, we started at 8.50 a.m. for "Waddru Well," reaching it, at twelve (12) miles, at noon. Resting for two (2) hours, we allowed the camels to feed on a little soft herbage around the water. I believe permanent water will be found here by deepening this well and timbering it, the drift sand being very troublesome at the bottom. Travelled five (5) miles during the afternoon, and reached "Kulga-ngunn-ngunn." Noticed that the flats were low, and the limestone outcropping, before reaching this spot.
Travelled for day seventeen (17) miles. Found camp and well as we had left them last January.
Marked a tree about eight (8) chains West of well, at camp, "L.A.W., 7." This is one of several specimens of fine Leichardt trees to which I have previously referred. The latitude of previous observation is 19deg. 32min. 48sec. South.
If we can manage to avoid the poison plant, the camels will do well on some soft herbage and grass on a small space around the water.
Wednesday, April 7. - Cleaned out the hole, watered all camels, and filled kegs. Planted date stones in the two (2) large excavations made by the natives. This is undoubtedly a good water, and is apparently of a permanent nature. As far as we can judge, the rainfall has been very light during the wet season whilst we were on the river, and I think not more than two or three inches have fallen here. These natives point on a bearing of North 205deg. East for "Terniakka," another water over which we were puzzled on our last Search Expedition.
Thursday, April 8. - Starting early over innumerable sandridges and porcupine, we reached the water, a rock-hole, at six (6) miles. The natives state that they do not know the country any further to the South, and are anxious to go West. Fortunately, seeing some smoke about due South, I informed them I was going that way, and asked whether they would come with me, reminding them of the promised tomahawk. They, however, seemed somewhat disinclined to accompany me, and on our starting they walked in the rear, instead of in advance as before.
Bearing North 175deg. East, we travelled for six (6) miles, Camping for two (2) hours, then resuming our march, crossing countless ridges of sand and hummocks, our old friends the desert gums becoming numerous as we advanced, and Leichardt trees appeared in the flats. [52] We travelled seven (7) miles further, and camped at 19 miles for the day.
Latitude £9deg. 49min. 48sec. South.
Friday, April 9. - Continued on same bearing for one and a-half (1 1/2) miles, when we came to some recently-burnt patches of porcupine, and shortly afterwards to a fresh track of a native going in a North-West direction. The two (2) native boys immediately ran off along the tracks whilst we crossed over a sandridge. Here Sandy saw a gin creeping under a bush. She was very frightened, and Sandy had to pull her out by the leg. I said "Napa" to her, whereupon he pointed South-Easterly for the water. We started with her in this direction, Sandy heading her by the arm until he saw another gin on a sandridge, whom he immediately made off after. The other one then attempted to get away, and I was obliged to run her down with my camel. She then took us to the water which was a mile and a-half on this course. There were two (2) old women in camp, and they set up a wail as we approached, crying "Mabu." This is a soakage well called "Tchundurtu" by the natives. There is very little water in it, so it is of no use to us. Trying to explain to one of the old gins that I wanted water for the camels, she pointed in several directions, one of which was about South-South-West, and called it "Kalunngalong." On my telling her that one of them must come and show us the water, they both discovered that they were footsore. I noticed that one of them wore a peculiar-looking pair of shoos made from bark. We then told the young gin whom we had captured that she must come with us. She protested, crying, and pointing out a canoe-shaped piece of bark, in which there was a dead child. It was bound round with strips of bark and she was evidently carrying it about with her. However, the old lady gave her a piece of her mind, and she then prepared for the journey. This did not take many seconds, as she was not over fastidious about her wardrobe, which consisted of a yam stick. Sandy walking with her, we had just started when we heard a call, and saw the two (2) native boys running towards us, accompanied by another rather tall and well-built native. They had tracked him up and brought him to us for an introduction. He informed me that his name was "Lirmi," and that he was "Mabu," and I told him we wanted water. The old gins said something to him, whereupon he suggested going South-East, but I struck out for "Kalunngalong," believing from the direction that it would be Joanna Spring. Telling the gin she could stay, tho native, who was evidently her lord and master, threw her two porcupine wallabies and started off, first bearing North 240deg. East for three (3) miles, when we reached another well adjacent to a flat of cork-bark trees. This well may be a good one if dug out, but it is twelve (12) or fifteen (15) foot deep at present, and but little water can be obtained from it. It was very hot, and the natives did not like walking over the burning sand; they wanted to stop at this well, which is called "Yellingaggidi," but explaining that this was no good for camels, I induced them to go on. Now bearing North 205deg. East for "Kalunngalong," we crossed over high drift sandridges and narrow flats for four (4) miles, resting for two (2) hours during the middle of the day.
In endeavouring to find out what sort of a water we were now going to, the natives from the Northern tribe, whom we could better understand, explained, on inquiry from "Lirmi," that it was a spring water, "Tcharramarra." Two (2) more natives followed us up and were peeping at us over a sandridge, but perceiving that we had seen them, they ran off.
Pushing on during the afternoon, the natives running ahead and standing in any shade they could find to avoid the hot sand, we crossed over wretched country, consisting of high and steep sandridges, desert gums, and porcupine, for the whole distance.
The camels knocked up, and we were compelled to divide the load of one animal amongst the others. We reached a valley, in the lowest part of which are some samphire flats with loose earth and tea-tree. These flats are called "Kalunngalong," on the Southern side of which, at dusk, we came to a water in a large hole, with shelving limestone sides and a Pool in the centre, having travelled nine (9) miles since halting, or nineteen (19) miles for the day. The natives call this water" Biggarong," and say a short distance to the Eastward some natives are camped at another water. There is a miniature claypan, surrounded by samphire, immediately on the East of this beautiful water. At the other water, which is under a shelf of limestone and is but a small hole which one would pass by without notice, called by the natives "Griinng," were two (2) more natives with two (2) women and two (2) children. This water is in a samphire lead, and the soil is black, with a springy grass similar to that seen at other springs to the North of the desert. This water is about half a mile to the Eastward of "Biggarong." Searching about this vicinity, I could find no traces such as dry horse dung or anything else to indicate that whites had ever been here; but about ten (10) chains South-Easterly from "Biggarong" is a large Leichardt tree, the rough bark on the trunk of which showed the outline of a diamond in shape, as though the tree had been blazed and overgrown for many years. There is little doubt in my mind but that this is Joanna Spring. Probably this is the tree where Colonel Warburton camped during his distress in 1873.
I have been careful not to question the natives about dead white men before we got to this water being afraid of scaring them; however will do so to-morrow. Sent all the natives, including the boys from the Northern tribe, to camp at "Griinug" for the night, telling them to come back for breakfast.
By observation, I find the latitude here 20deg. 4min. 56sec. South, the approximate longitude being 124deg. 7min. East. The rainfall has been light here; the grass is quite dry, but there is a little green herbage.
Saturday, April 10. - The natives came to camp early this morning, and we noticed that one of them wore a girdle of native string over which hung a piece of tweed, the exact pattern of a pair of trousers my cousin had taken with him when he left me. Without asking questions, I took hold of the tweed, when "Lirmi" said "Purrunng white fellow " pointing in a Westerly direction. The other natives repeated this, laughing, in which I joined, so that they should not be suspicious. I asked if there was one white man dead (" Untu white fellow purrunng ") when they all replied "Kutharra purrunng," holding up two fingers. Pointing to the sun they said " Para white fellow purrunng," thus informing me that the sun had killed them. They then tried to explain something by passing their hands over their legs, arms, and cheeks. [53] From what I could understand, they were trying to explain that they have been dead for a long while and nothing but bones remain. I believe we are on the right track for discovering our poor friends, but I am afraid they have perished long ago. Even had they found water, I feel they could not have survived such a terrible summer in the heat of this frightful wilderness. From what I can gather from these natives, they are at or near a water called "Kaddawich."
This morning, in accordance with my agreement, I gave a tomahawk and a knife to the two (2) natives who had accompanied me from the Northern tribes and had fulfilled their mission as they promised. They are anxious to return to their own country and do not seem quite at home amongst these natives, apparently speaking but little of their language.
"Lirini" and another of this tribe have offered to show us the dead men, and I have promised them a tomahawk and knife for their services.
Mr. Keartland shot a hawk and four (4) pigeons, giving the former to the natives, who appeared greatly taken with the gun. Although they plucked and roasted the hawk, they were evidently afraid to eat it, for one of my boys discovered it after they had gone to camp for the night.
I have arranged with the two natives of this tribe, "Kammarra," to come to camp at daylight for breakfast, as we make our start to-morrow.
I marked a Leichardt tree about eight (8) chains South-East of the water "L.A.W., 9."
Mr. Keartland and myself, in endeavouring to remove the bark and young wood from the tree we supposed had been blazed, found the whole of the old growth decayed with dry rot and a large hollow inside the tree, which afterwards fell down. I felt disappointed. as I had hoped to get some conclusive proof that this tree had been marked many years ago. The natives point East-South-East for another water, which I understand is not far distant, but is only a soakage in sand. This may also have been one of the waters visited by Colonel Warburton.
Sunday, April 11. - As the natives did not put in an appearance this morning, Bejah and I walked over to the camp at Griinng and found that they had all decamped last night. This is most disappointing. I cannot understand why they have done so. It is possible that the shooting last evening scared them, or they were afraid, for some reason, to take us to the spot. The latter, I fancy, was the cause, for they appeared greatly taken with the gun. Last evening before leaving us, four (4) of them, the two who had accompanied us thus far from the North and the two who were to have gone on with us to-day, came to me and putting their hands on my shoulders kept repeating something in a sympathetic tone, which I was at a loss to understand. I almost wish now that I had broken my promise and chained one of these fellows up to make sure of a guide. However, as it is, we must do the best we can for ourselves, for I see little prospect of getting near any others.
I have now determined to give the camels the benefit of another day here, hoping that the natives may come back to us.
Mr. Keartland and Bejah are keeping the larder well supplied with bronzewing and crested pigeons and galahs.
Monday, April 12. - Having watered the camels and filled the kegs three parts full, we left the spring at 7.45 a.m., bearing North 265deg. East. We crossed high country, which extends North-East and South-West, but the sandridges covering all, still keep their bearing of North 290deg. East. Looking back, at five (5) miles, I noticed that the spring valley has high country on all sides, the sandridges rising higher and higher as one leaves the water.
After ten (10) miles travelling, we rested during the hottest part of the day, having previously seen a smoke to the South-West, apparently not far distant.
During the afternoon we travelled seven (7) miles, Camping at seventeen (17) miles for the day, on miserable feed for the camels.
Latitude, 20deg. 6min. 56sec. South.
We kept a sharp look-out in the hope of finding some old tracks of natives which might lead us to the dead men.
Tuesday, April 13. - Now bearing North 270deg. East, we travelled for nine (9) miles without finding any tracks, although we had passed over my route of October last, where there was a pad made by fifteen (15) camels, without seeing it. Rain and drift sand have completely hidden it.
Ascending a high sandridge, I saw a smoke bearing North 137deg. East, and altering our course for this, we travelled four (4) miles, camping at midday under some desert gums for two (2) hours; then resuming at 2 a.m., we travelled for five (5) miles further, and came upon the fresh footprints of a native going in our direction. We followed these tracks for a mile, when it began to get late, so I determined. to camp, fearing to get too close to the camp of the natives and thus, perhaps, scaring them off. They might also hear the camel bells if we were too near. Whilst we were busy unpacking, I sent Sandy to run the tracks for three or four sandridges further in advance, with instructions not to go too far, but to see if there was a native camp anywhere in our vicinity.
Sandy returned very excited, and said that the camp was close ahead, and that he had seen two (2) blackfellows and, he thought, some women and children sitting under a tree. Thinking they might discover our presence before we could get to them in the morning, I decided to walk over with Bejah and the two (2) natives, Sandy and Dick, and take one of them. We walked about a mile, and Sandy then told me they were in the next flat. We crept up to near the top of the sandridge, and, looking over, I could see two blackfellows, about fifteen (15) chains distant, and the heads of some others, which Sandy said he thought were women. I made the boys strip off their clothes and show themselves on the sandridge and call out. I saw the natives were puzzled, for the skin of the boys wearing clothes was dark and shiny, whilst the wild natives have a lighter-coloured skin. Waiting a few seconds, Bejah and myself showed ourselves, whereupon several women and children, panic-stricken, fled for the next sandridge, and seven men, armed to the teeth with spears, boomerangs, and waddies, came out into the open and threw out a challenge, calling "Yarra," "Yarra." [54] Bejah suggested going back for Mr. Keartland and Trainor, whilst the two boys said, "Look out boss, him sulky fellow." Telling Bejah that if we ran away now they would come after us with spears, I began an approach, with Bejah about two (2) chains behind me, and the boys bringing up the rear.
Bejah was very excited, calling to me not to get too close to them, as their spears were shipped As we approached the natives became more excited, yelling furiously, but when I got within a hundred yards they began to retreat backwards, still shaking their spears. Then I called to them in a pacific manner "Mabu," "Mabu," and holding up my hand they halted for a moment, and one of them stood his ground whilst the others still retreated. Going up to him I patted him on the back, and taking hold of his spears made him put them on the ground. The others then approached, but would not put their weapons down until I took hold of them and made them do so. They then began to feel my arms, and catching hold of my rifle made a most horrible sound with their tongues and rattled their lips in astonishment. Bejah was most excited, and kept calling to me not to let them get too close, as I should not be able to shoot them. I had difficulty in keeping him quiet, and was afraid he would shoot me, as his gun was full cock. Three (3) of the natives attempted to get on terms with him, but he kept them off with the muzzle of the gun.
Seeing two (2) plates, a quart-pot, tomahawk, a piece of iron and clothing, I pointed to them and said "purrunng whitefellow," to which they assented. Asking them for water, they pointed to a well and invited me to go down it. I told them I had come from "Biggarong," which they all repeated, laughing. I asked them about dead white men, but at that they grew sulky, and pushing me gently, said" Bah! Bah!" This, which I understand, meant "Go," they afterwards did repeatedly. I tried to persuade them to come over to our camp for food (" Myi"), but they decided, and were only anxious for me to go away. They would not talk about our friends, although I am certain they know of their whereabouts. I was at a loss to know what to do. To have taken one of these fellows would have meant, in all probability, a struggle and the use of firearms, which I felt loth to have recourse to without proof that a murder had been committed. Determining to leave them on friendly terms, I made up my mind to return to camp and come over in the morning and to further investigate, as it was then nearly dusk. Not risking leaving in their possession the evidence I saw, I made my boys pick up the various things we recognised as ours. When Dick picked up the tomahawk the natives demurred, but I told them it was ours and belonged to "purrunng whitefellow." After we had got a hundred yards from them they began to call out something I could not understand, but on turning round and facing them they ceased, and merely watched us until we got over the sandridge. From the spot where I first saw these natives I picked up a geological sketch map of the Colony, which was presented to me at Cue, and which I had given my cousin for his guidance. It has some pencil memoranda in my writing. This plan was lying near an old wurley which had been used by the natives some months since. There were no tracks of any description about the spot, and the map must have been there for some considerable time. Returning to camp, we surprised Mr. Keartland and Trainor by relating our adventures and showing what we had found. Tied camels up for night and kept watch all night in turn, one white and one black at a time. This is the first time I have considered it necessary to watch, but I felt we were not quite safe with these fellows.
Wednesday, April 14. - Yesterday one of the natives encountered showed me a wound in his arm as though a hole had been made right through it. He said something about "whitefellow," and pointed to the wound. In my opinion he has either shot himself with a stolen revolver or else has been fired at.
Packing the camels at daylight we went over to the well and instituted a thorough search. The well is a poor soakage and would only contain water for a little while after rain. There were no signs of whites having been here; no tree marked or camel dung lying about the flat. We found quantities of hoop-iron from water kegs, a pack bag in the fork of a tree containing some hobble-rings, and an old felt hat, pieces of clothing, etc., which we recognised as the property of my cousin and Mr. Jones, pieces of iron from riding-saddle and a portion of a rib from between the barrels of a gun. This latter is new, and, I think, taken from a new gun I had lent Mr. Jones for the trip.
I marked a Leichardt tree, where we found the pack bag, about fifteen (15) chains North-East of the well, "L.A.W., 10."
Thinking matters over, I have come to the conclusion that there has been foul play. The desertion of the Joanna Spring natives, the meeting with these warlike fellows, and the evidence of the goods in their possession, several of which articles I can swear to as being part of my cousin's outfit, together with the hole through the arm of the native, and the unwillingness of them all to discuss the matter with me, all point in favour of such a supposition.
Having spent half the morning in fruitless search, I decided to travel direct for Joanna Spring, the camels being in need of water. Bearing North 57deg. East we travelled 11 miles, camping on poor feed as usual.
Thursday, April 15. - Continuing on the same course, we cut our outward pad at five (5) miles, and following the same Easterly for 4 1/2 miles we reached Joanna Spring. I found, placed on a clump of porcupine, right on our camel pad, two (2) boomerangs. These had evidently been placed there by a native after we had left on the 12th inst. There may be a meaning in this.
Friday, April 16. - Yesterday, on arrival, the camels drank a great quantity of the water, which is perfectly fresh, though hard for washing, without reducing the level. There is any quantity of water here. [55]
On a sand ridge, to the Eastward of the water, I discovered wider two (2) bushes two (2) bundles of native implements (" bull roarers,") each bundle lying on some dry leaves, evidently recently placed there, with a view of keeping them from the ravages of white ants. They were each about eighteen (18) inches long, flat, and rounded off at the ends, with a hole at one end. These are used in connection with some of the mystic ceremonies of the natives, and I have been before informed by the natives that women must not see them. They were curiously marked, and most, if not all, were of different patterns. They ranged in appearance from about new to very old ones. The two separate bundles suggest the idea that they belong to members of two different families. I ascertained that, as in other parts, they are divided into four (4) families, by which division their marriage laws are guided. I took possession of several of the best made implements. Sandy says they are used in connection with the initiation of young men, and that one of these is used for each young man during the ceremony. He says the older "bull roarers" belong to the old men. Apparently these are kept sacred as a record, and for use during these ceremonies. I hope the loss of those I have taken will not mean anything serious to the desert natives.
Leaving Joanna Spring at 6.50 a.m., we followed our pad of the 12th inst. for seventeen (17) miles, camping at our former halting place.
Saturday, April 17. - In the hope of finding some old tracks of natives or traces which would lead us to the spot where our friends have perished, I started with Bejah and Sandy to examine the country in this neighbourhood. We travelled South-South-West for two (2) miles when we saw numbers of flocks of small finches flying to the North-North-East, thence one (1) mile Easterly, where we found some old tracks of a native which I left Sandy to run, Bejah and I travelling in the direction the birds were flying, viz., North-Easterly for five (5) miles without success, although I feel sure there is a water in this direction not far distant. Making a detour we returned to camp in five (5) miles, Sandy returning shortly afterwards, having followed the tracks a mile or two and then losing them as they became too old.
Travelled for this morning thirteen (13) miles.
Left camp during the afternoon with the whole of the party. We are now bearing North 32deg. East, keeping a sharp look-out for water and making the native boys keep watch for old tracks. We passed over rather low flats at five (5) miles and noted some sandstone outcrops. At seven (7) mules Sandy ran some old tracks to a native soakage well twelve (12) feet deep, but not at all promising as regards water, and with not a bite in the vicinity for the camels. Travelled from here due North through wretched country - mallee, porcupine, and desert gums - for three (3) miles, when we found a few Leichardt trees, so I decided to camp, having travelled ten (10) miles, or twenty-three (23) miles for the day.
The only smokes seen since our last adventure with the natives were some which rose to-day, far distant to the North-West.
This evening we saw some cockatoos flying South-South-West. I feel sure we passed a good water about five (5) miles back.
It is my intention to proceed North-Westerly in the direction of smokes seen, in the slight hope of meeting with natives; but I feel that I lost my chance in not securing one of those we met, at any hazard, If unsuccessful to-morrow I will travel direct for Jurgurra Creek and follow it down to the Fitzroy River going thence to Derby with the view of getting horses with which to arrest some of the natives, and compel them to take us to the spot which I feel confident is within a few miles of the well where we found the articles in possession of the natives. There will be no chance of getting near any, now, without the aid of a horse.
Sunday, April 18. - Now bearing North 330deg. East over most wretched steep and red sandridges, desert gums, and porcupine. Rested at 11 miles and continued on during the afternoon, but at sixteen (16) miles for the day we were compelled to camp on a burnt flat where there were a few bushes. The day was intensely hot and the camels were knocked up. Being very thirsty they attempted to clear out this evening, so we were compelled to tie them up for the night. No animal could endure much of this class of country, almost destitute of feed as it is. We found the sandridges very bad for the whole day's travel.
Monday, April 19. - Making a very early start and pursuing the same course, we found travelling a little improved. At seven (7) miles we met with cork-bark and tea-tree in the flats, and finches flying
N.N.E. My camel was almost done up here, and I was compelled to take him to the rear of the caravan giving Bejah directions from there.
The tea-tree flats continued on for two (2) miles, when we came on some old wurleys on a sand ridge, and crossing over found by accident a native well, which looked very promising, so I decided to stop and give it a trial. By noon we had a well twelve (12) feet deep of excellent water and apparently a large and permanent supply, with drift sand at the top, and soft sandstone, in which the water is, at bottom. The camels drank about seventy (70) buckets of water, and the supply does not appear affected. There is some soft grass similar to that growing at the Springs near Mount Fenton and Mount Arthur. This is a most fortunate find for us, for through the sudden collapse of the camels I fear we should have been compelled to abandon some of them before reaching Jurgurra Creek had we not found water.
Marked a Leichardt tree ten (10) chains North-West of the well "L.A.W., 11," and blazed another to the South-West.
Tuesday, April 20. - Natives have evidently not visited this spot since last summer. Mr. Keartland and Bejah bagged a number of pigeons this morning. It is most remarkable how quickly birds find out where water is to be had. On our arrival yesterday there was us water nearer than nine (9) feet from the surface, and the hole was almost filled with silt and quite dry. No birds were to be seen about here. To-day we have numbers of pigeons, finches, and a few doves. I believe these birds are like the crows and can either see or smell the smokes of the natives (who must always be on water), and are thereby guided. [56] From here some high sand hills are conspicuous to the West-North-West about one (1) mile distant, and a bearing to the most Northern and apparently the highest of a group of three stony hills reads North 280deg. magnetic. These hills appear to be about twelve (12) miles distant. The bearing to the Northern portion of a low range reads North 305deg. East mag., thirteen (13) miles distant. These are the best landmarks for finding this water, which I have named "Rescue Well."
It has been too cloudy to observe for latitude here.
Wednesday, April 21. - -The camels are much improved and fresher. Got an early start, now bearing North 307deg. East. Travelling is much better. Tea-tree flats occurred between the sand ridges for two miles, but no desert gums. Came upon a few Leichardt trees and coarse acacia scrub. Saw native camping places and dry clay holes at eleven miles, and at thirteen miles reached the low range seen yesterday. This is composed of sandstone hillocks partly capped with ironstone and clothed with porcupine. Altered bearing here to North 342deg. E. Gradually descending we passed some more hillocks on either side, of which one to the Eastward is conspicuous from the North, having three dark bushes or trees on its summit. Travelled nine (9) miles on this latter course, or twenty-two (22) miles for the day. No feed, as usual.
Thursday, April 22. - Travelled on same course this morning. Reached at three (3) miles a high point where are sandstone hillocks capped with ironstone and partly covered with drift sand, and at eight (8) miles lowest valley. Then followed desert gums, also ant-hills, porcupine, coarse scrub of acacia, and patches of grass, all very dry for the time of year. At seven (7) miles we came upon recently-made tracks of natives, and at fifteen (15) miles another high point, a sandridge, where there was an old wurley and soakage well. Then followed undulating desert gum country, a few low sandridges, coarse acacia and cork tree flats. Camped at twenty-two (22) miles and tied camels up at night.
Friday, April 23. - We were off camp at 5 a.m. this morning. Ascended at three (3) miles a low tableland with valleys on either side of us clothed with desert gums and porcupine, and then crossed the heft-hand valley and at five (5) miles reached a broken tableland full of water-channels and creeks, and in endeavouring to get through these we lost a lot of time. Broken hills and conspicuous ranges extend for some miles to the East-South-East, and. an apparently high tableland stretches away towards the North-West with a valley between it and us. We are now on the watershed of Jurgurra Creek. Numbers of small gum creeks bear North-Westerly. At ten (10) Miles rested in a valley for two (2) hours. At thirteen (13) Miles reached "Goorda Tower" (W.A. Survey Department), and at fourteen and a half (14 1/2) Miles the main channel of the creek, which we followed down camping at twenty (20) miles for the day, the camels getting a drink and some good feed. It was a great relief to get clear of those wretched sandridges.
Saturday, April 24. - Bearing North-North-East we crossed the creek twice when it bore of to the Eastward. Continuing our course we passed "Babrongan Tower," an isolated hill with perpendicular walls and capped with a large square top. It forms a curious and conspicuous feature. At fourteen (14) miles altered course to E.N.E., and at seven (7) miles crossed the creek and camped on open grass plains.
Sunday, April 25.- - Following creek over fair pastoral country we saw cattle, the property of Mr. John Collins of Roebuck Downs.
Camped at twenty (20) miles.
Monday, April 26. - Passed some cattle yards at four Miles on Roebuck Downs Station which was deserted. At fifteen (15) miles reached the River flats, camping on a billabong.
Tuesday, April 27. - Crossing numbers of billabongs, and also the Fitzroy River, we reached Mount Anderson Station, where we struck the main road to Derby, travelling thence to Liverynga Station.
Travelled eighteen (18) miles for day.
Wednesday April 28. - Travelled to "Yeeda Cattle Station" making twenty-five (25) Miles for day. Mr. Keartland had been very busy amongst the birds since reaching the good country.
Thursday, April 29. - Travelled twenty (20) miles, forming camp five (5) miles from Derby at "Mayall's Well." Mosquitoes are here night and day giving us a lively time.
Friday, April 30. - Proceeded to Derby, five (5) miles. Purchased supplies and returned to "Mayall's Well." Travelled ten (10) miles for day.
From May 1 to May 8. - Engaged in Derby forwarding and receiving telegraph messages and arranging to form another search expedition with camels and horses, as without the latter for the purpose of running down the natives and forcing them to show us the spot where our friends have perished we can do nothing.
Eventually arranged for police assistance with black trackers and horses.
We are at present the guests of Mr. Craven Ord, Sub-inspector of Police, and Dr. House, Government Resident. These gentlemen, together with others in Derby, have been most hospitable.
Sunday, May 9. - S.S. "Australind" arrived from Singapore.
Saw Messrs. Keartland and Trainor of to Adelaide, Mr. Keartland taking letters of advice, vouchers, and details of expenditure to date to deliver to Mr. A. T. Magarey. [57]
Monday, May 10. - Sub-Inspector Ord and myself left Derby, and driving by road reached Liverynga Station at fifty (50) miles.
Tuesday, May 11. - Travelled via Mount Anderson to Gregory's Station, where we were joined by Trooper Nicholson and black trackers; also police from Derby arrived.
Wednesday, May 12. - Bejah and Sandy arrived with the camels from Upper Liverynga where the camels have been spelling. [58] [...]
Thursday, May 13, 1897. - Making preparation for start. Inquiring into various rumours about two (2) white men who were reported to have been in close proximity to this neighbourhood. Investigation proves these reports to be without foundation.
Friday, May 14. - Started Bejah up Nerrima Creek. I myself accompanied Sub-Inspector Ord, three (3) troopers and four (4) trackers in pursuit of some natives who were wanted for killing stock. Travelled South-West for eight (8) miles, thence S.S.W. for thirteen (13) miles, reaching an open, grassy and samphire flat. Here we found two (2) springs about half a mile apart, the largest where we camped is called by natives "Yallagudyne." We found a very large encampment here but the natives had all left during the last day or two.
Saturday, May 15. - Passed the smaller spring at half-a-mile, then went East for two (2) miles to a remarkable-looking hill; thence E.N.E. for four (4) miles to a high flat-topped hill, thence North-East to a native well, and E.N.E. to a large water-hole in Nerrima Creek, eight (8) miles from the flat-topped hill. We then travelled five (5) miles up the creek and camped.
Sunday, May 16. - Following up the Creek we overtook Bejah with the camels sit two (2) miles, then all travelling together we reached Collins Springs at seven (7) miles. Cleaned out spring, watered camels and horses and filled kegs.
Monday, May 17. - Mr. Ord started off two (2) troopers and two (2) trackers to endeavour to arrest natives wanted, who are supposed to be between here and the River. Our party left the Spring at 8 a.m., bearing North 162deg. East. We travelled twenty-three (23) miles camping at a low range previously visited.
Gave the horses six (6) buckets of water from the kegs.
Tuesday. May 18. - Continuing on same course we passed the range of detached sandstone hillocks at six (6) miles, reaching my route of Nov. 4th last at nine (9) miles. This spot was indicated as one where white men and camels were seen. Made an exhaustive search here without finding the reported spot. Finding natives' tracks and seeing smokes Mr. Ord and a tracker endeavoured to overtake natives, but without success.
Gave the horses nine (9) buckets of water from the kegs.
Wednesday, May 19.- - Now bearing North 150deg. East we travelled 11 miles, cutting my old pad between "Tallingurr" and "Tanndulla" and following pad for two (2) miles to Tanndulla, thence for four (4) miles to "Dillawuddi," which was dry.
Travelled seventeen 17 miles for day. Gave horses eight (8) buckets of water from the kegs, having but one bucket remaining.
Thursday, May 20. - Making a daylight start we reached "Ngowallarra" sit 8 a.m., Nicholson and myself working at the well all the morning. We put one of the two ration cases left here by me on April 6th in the hole, and digging out the drift sand got it down to ten (10) feet from the original surface, forcing porcupine and grass at its back to keep back the drift. It was then making three (3) buckets an hour. Spent the rest of the day until 10 p.m. watering the camels, giving them three (3) buckets apiece
Travelled seven (7) miles for day.
Friday, May 21. - Travelled via "Waddru" to "Kullga-ngunn-ngunn," seventeen (17) miles. Dug the well out, and found that the water supply had not decreased. Watered the horses.
Saturday, May 22. - It will be necessary to rest camels and horses here to-day.
Watered camels and filled kegs. One camel is sick this evening, but does not show the same symptoms as those which were poisoned here last December. [59]
Sunday, May 23. - Following my camel pad, we passed " Yerniakka " at six (6) miles, camping at nineteen (19) miles. The sick camel is better, and is feeding this evening. From " Yerniakka " I noted distant smoke to the South-South-East.
Monday, May 24.-- - Started Bejah with the camels, accompanied by Sandy and the tracker " Ned," for Joanna Spring. Taking Ned's horse, I accompanied Mr. Ord, Nicholson, and " Bob." Bearing North 152deg. East in the direction where smokes were seen yesterday, we travelled over wretched desert sandridges for ten (10) miles, when smoke began to rise in several directions, one, which we made for, immediately on our bearing. Getting close to it, Bob crawled up a sandridge to " look out," and, returning, reported two (2) natives some distance East along the ridge, which we followed down, and, crossing over it, galloped down upon them, but discovered they were two (2) gins, the elder almost a dwarf about thirty (30) years of age, and the other a young gin, and good-looking for a native. They were very frightened at first, but the younger soon recovered, and, in answer to our inquiries, pointed on the course we were taking for a water called " Djillill," thirteen (13) miles from our camp, and took us to it. Here we surprised a wizard or doctor rejoicing in the name of " Yallamerri." He rushed out of a bough wurley with a spear, shaking it at Bob, who covered him with his rifle, and would have fired but for Mr. Ord, who called to him to desist. There were also four (4) small boys at the water. The " wise man " could not understand the horses, and was trembling with fear. Searching the camp, we found several pieces of iron, including a large piece of a part of the bow of a camel riding saddle. It was sharpened at one end, evidently for use as an axe. Questioning the native about this, he said, " Purrunng whitefellow," pointing South-Westerly. Noting smokes a few miles W.N.W., we took the wise man, gins and children in that direction. The old fellow pleaded lameness, but being prodded occasionally with a spear, he soon forgot he was lame. He was most anxious to go for a number of smokes where he pointed saying " Jibir," and counting ten (10) on his fingers ; but as we did not want ten (10) more natives, we made him go for a single smoke bearing N. 280 deg. East for four (4) miles, where we found a native, whom, with "Yallamerri's" assistance, we enticed to come up to us. He was a bold-looking customer, and walked round the horses in astonishment, making peculiar noises with his tongue and lips. Informing them they must come on with us to Joanna Spring (Biggarong), they both pleaded lameness, afterwards pointing Northwards in the direction of the smokes, saying Biggarong was there. Finding we were to have trouble, Mr. Ord handcuffed them together. Sending the gins and children back to "Djillill," I rode in advance, bearing North 247 deg. East, whilst Mr. Ord and Nicholson drove the natives after me, having to jostle them to make them follow up. After travelling eight (8) miles, they ran up behind me and decided I was going in the right direction.
Reached the Spring at ten (10) miles and found that Bejah's party had arrived.
Travelled for day twenty-seven (27) miles. We chained the natives to the tree I had previously marked here. They had visited this tree since I had marked it, and cut all the lettering off. The younger native, whose name is "Pallarri," says "Wanndanni" had done this, meaning the women. Being a descendant of Adam I suppose we must excuse him. We found the Spring in the same condition as on our last visit, the supply being abundant. Hundreds of birds are now coming here to water.
This being the birthday of Her Majesty the Queen, we drank her health in whiskey.
The natives are fastened to the tree by means of chains padlocked round their necks, and their legs are fastened with handcuffs. They have a break of bushes and some firewood, the nights being cold now. I was very anxious and could not rest, fearing the natives would get away. In the middle of the night I noticed a flicker of light and could see from behind my saddle where I was sleeping their dark eyes by the scanty firelight. For a long while I watched them trying to get the chain over their heads. Twice I called Mr. Ord; the second time he was annoyed and administered a little chastisement to Master "Yallamerri," telling them both to "lummbo."
Tuesday, May 25. - We bagged thirteen (13) galahs and six (6) pigeons this morning.
Spelled the camels here to-day, and filled kegs. During the afternoon Mr. Ord and myself, each with a tracker, circled around the Spring for some miles, to ascertain whether any other of the natives had come in, acting as spies; but we could see no signs of them.
We shall have difficulty in inducing these natives to conduct us to the spot where our comrades have perished. They say that two (2) are dead and that the sun killed them, but they profess ignorance regarding the locality, and state that the women and children had found the remains and taken the goods. They are anxious to go North-West to some smokes where they say other natives are. No doubt they are afraid and naturally think we are in quest of the equipment our friends had, and cannot understand our coming after the bodies or bones of dead men. To-morrow, Wednesday, we purpose travelling Westward.
Wednesday, May 26. - Left Joanna Spring at 7.30 a.m., Bejah in advance with the camels, and following my old pad Westerly, then the two natives handcuffed together, and Mr. Ord with Nicholson the trackers and myself bringing up the rear. We frequently asked the natives where the dead men were, but they were silent on this subject. We heard the elder native telling the younger something in whispers. They were very eager to go North, and eventually said the dead men were in that direction I could not stand this for it would not agree with statements made by the natives at other times. At fifteen (15) miles we reached the top of an unusually high sand ridge and halted to again question the natives. They pointed eagerly for Joanna Spring or other places, and also where other natives were, but on my suggesting the whereabouts of the dead white men they said nothing but walked on. It was most exasperating, and Mr. Ord losing patience, cantered after them, and lifting Master "Pallarri" off his legs by a chignon (the style in which they dress the hair in these parts) shook him and brought them both back. "Paflarri" angrily exclaimed "wah" at this treatment, and when I questioned him and spoke severely he laughed at me. Mr. Ord then instructed Nicholson to administer a little moral suasion, whereupon "Pallarri" threw himself on the sand, partly dragging the wizard with him. Master "Yallameri" trembling and becoming afraid that his time had arrived, turned to me and eagerly snapping his fingers in a Southerly direction exclaimed " Purrunng whitefellow." [60] "Pallarri" jumping up, they started off at a Chinaman's trot, exclaiming " Bah! bah ! " which I suppose means " Go quickly." Whistling to Bejah we gave him a sign to wheel round, and driving the natives, we followed them for three (3) miles when it was getting late, so we decided to camp for the night. Our last course was North 145deg. East. After the natives were chained up and fed and made comfortable I explained that if they did not take us to the dead men they would get neither food, water, nor fire. They replied " Mabu, mabu." As I feed them and have so far not hurt them they say I am good, but they have a wholesome dread of Nicholson, the chain, and handcuffs, and look with suspicion upon Mr. Ord.
Thursday, May 27. - After we had packed and mounted this morning, the natives, when loosened, again attempted to plead their ignorance, but upon Nicholson dismounting they ran off on the same bearing, exclaiming "Bah! bah !" At two (2) miles on this course they halted on a high sandridge and had a conversation together. Urging them on they then turned South-Westerly for one and-a-half (1 1/2) miles, when we came to a recently burnt patch of porcupine. Yallameri then held his hand up, and moving his fingers about said "Purrunng whitefellow." Urging them forward again they ran along with their "Bah! bah!" Immediately in front of us was a high point of sandridge with a low saddle to the West. Being on my camel this morning I had a better view, and seeing a rope hanging from a small desert gum tree on the ridge, I drew Sub-inspector Ord's attention to it. The natives, now at the foot of the ridge, exclaimed in one awed breath "Wah! wah!" I could then see my cousin's iron-grey beard, and we were at last at the scene of their terrible death, with its horrible surroundings : - Where Nature is sombre and sear,
Midst Solitude's silent embrace;
In reflection - pray pardon a tear
For the heroes who died in this place.
Dismounting, Mr. Ord and myself went to my cousin, whilst Nicholson and Bejah went where they saw some remnants of the camp equipment and found the body of Mr. G. L. Jones, which was partly covered with drift sand. Where Charles Wells lay, half-clothed and dried like a mummy, we found nothing but a rug, a piece of rope hanging from a tree, and some old straps hanging to some burnt bushes, which held the brass eyelets of a fly that had either been rifled by the natives or burnt by a fire which had been within a few feet of his body. Where Mr. Jones lay and near his head was a note-book with a piece of paper fastened outside it by an elastic band. It was addressed to his father and mother. On suggesting to Sub-Inspector Ord that we should not open the note, he pointed out that in has official capacity it was imperative that he should see the contents. Besides the note might give us something to act upon out here. Amongst a heap of remnants of their equipment we also found a satchel containing a box of medicines, a prayer book, leather pouch, Mr. Jones' compass, and journal, which was kept from the time of their departure from Separation Well until they returned to that water. He stated in his Journal that they had gone W.N.W. for five (5) days, after separating from the main party, then travelling a short distance N.E., and that both himself and Charles has felt the heat terribly and were both unwell. They then returned to the well, after an absence of nine (9) days, rested at the water five (5) days, and then started to follow our tracks Northward. Afterwards one of their camels died, which obliged them to walk a great deal and they became very weak and exhausted by the intense heat. When writing he says that two (2) days previously he attempted to follow their camels, which had strayed, but after walking half a mile he felt too weak to go further and returned with difficulty. Charles Wells, he then said was very ill indeed. There was, at that time, but about two (2) quarts of water remaining to them, and he did not think they could last long after that was finished.
The natives have rifled the spot of everything that would be of any service to them. They have by some means cut up and removed the whole of the iron from the riding saddle, and taken all the hoops from both pairs of water-kegs, firearms, etc. Although we made a careful search we could not find any writing left by my cousin, nor has journal, plans, sextant, compass, artificial horizon or star charts, etc., and, with the exception of the map I picked up at the well six (6) miles South-West of this spot, we have not seen a sign of any of these articles amongst the different natives I have met with.
Looking at my cousin as he lay on the sand with features perfect and outstretched open hand, I recalled the time we last parted when I felt his hard, strong grip. I little thought then that this would be our next meeting! I remember we spent a lively evening, our last together, at Separation Well, when both he and Mr. Jones were joking freely, hopeful and full of life. The lines of his favorite poet, Adam Lindsay Gordon, occur to me - With the pistol clenched in his failing hand,
With the death mists spread o'er his fading eyes,
He saw the sun go down on the sand,
And he slept and never saw it rise.
God grant that whenever, soon or late,
Our course is run and our goal is reached,
We may meet our fate as steady and straight
As he whose bones on yon desert bleached,
This spot is six (6) miles North-Easterly from the well where we encountered natives in April last, with rifled goods in their possession, and my camel pad from that place to Joanna Spring passes within a quarter of a mile to the South-East of the scene.
Sub-inspector Ord has taken charge of all articles found here, and the bodies are sewn up in sheets ready for removal to Derby.
Leaving this melancholy spot we followed my old pad on route for Joanna Spring, during the afternoon, travelling seven (7) miles, and camped for the night. The natives are well fed, but still prisoners. [61]
The following is a copy taken from Mr. G. L. Jones Official Journal : - 1896.
October 11. - Bearings, 290deg. 2 1/2 miles, 295deg. 94 miles, 293deg. 14 miles, 290deg.
16 miles.
Started away from well with Mr. Charles, taking three (3) camels and provisions for about three (3) weeks, travelling down flats had fairly good. travelling, ground rising from well for two miles when quartzite grit and ferruginous occurs and it outcrops again at eight (8) miles. Camped on a little wattle-bush. Ants and flies very numerous.
Oct. 12. - Bearings, 290deg. 6 miles, 295deg. 10 miles, 290deg. 15 miles.
We managed to load up the water casks successfully and left camp at 5.30. At 24 miles saw hill bearing 250deg. about two (2) miles off; the hill is table-topped and has bluff ends.
At three (3) miles country and valley fell away about 100 feet in a quarter of a mile, quartzitic grits and quartzite being visible; nice tea-tree growing in valley. Saw three (3)
crested pigeons. Travertine occurs twice in valley.
At sixteen (16) miles came to big salt lake, about one (1) mile broad and ten (10) or fifteen (15) miles long, running North-Westerly. Camped at South end of lake as there is fairly good feed. for the camels. The lake has an awful appearance - . - one shining surface of spotless white.
Bar. 29deg. 00. Lake surface 1250 feet above sea-level.
Oct. 13. - Leaving lake at daybreak we followed up valley with travertine limestone, blows and clay-pans. Passed over sandridge into similar country, one big clay-pan with desert gums growing round it, and from the number of old fires this is a much-frequented spot by the natives.
Camped under bloodwood tree. Nineteen (19) miles. Numbers of finches about. Going out in search of water I came across a watercourse, and followed it down through ironstone then white and grey sandstone. Saw large lake about two (2) miles off. Returned to camp and found Mr. Charles had seen lake from top of sandridge.
Oct. 14. - Mr. Charles followed the watercourse down while I led camels direct to lake. Although we saw hundreds of finches, no sign of water. Came to lake which extends North-East and South-West. The lake (1,100 feet) is about three-quarters of a mile wide and extends as far as we could see, bending about like a big river, surface coated with white saline matter and has the appearance of running strongly at times to North-East, as the surface is all eddies where stones occur; there is a hole on South-West side while surface comes up level on the other. Leaving this place we crossed several ridges and camped under tea-tree at 12.30.
The heat is intense. At 5 p.m. loaded up again to see if we could find any feed for the camels. After going two (2) miles camped near some desert gums, not a bite of feed, gave camels a bucket of water each. We are both feeling rather weak. The days are frightfully hot after 11 a.m. Twenty-one (21) miles.
Oct. 15. - (Detail accidentally omitted, but can be supplied by Mr. J. W. Jones.)
Oct. 16. - Bearings 2 miles 42deg., 1 mile 120deg., 8 miles 42deg.
Were rather late in starting, as camels had gone some distance from camp. After travelling two (2) miles on 42deg., Mr. Charles turned down a valley to look for water; travertine on surface in places. Crossed a clay-pan and camped among some acacia, the camels seeking shelter at once from the merciless sun. Started again at 7 p.m., and travelled for eight (8) miles, when we came to some salt lakes, which camels refused to face, so we camped. No feed for camels.
I am feeling very ill, and Mr. Charles is far from well.
Oct. 17. - Started at 5.30 a.m., after giving camels some water. Spent some time in search of water, on account of seeing galahs and pigeons about. Travertine limestone occurs in mounds here, and immense ant-hills up to ten (10) feet high are dotted all over the flats.
Camped at 10.30, after going ten (10) miles. Started again at 10 p.m., and travelled till 2 a.m. twenty (20) miles.
Oct. 18. - Started at sunrise, and after six (6) miles stopped for breakfast amongst some desert gums. After a fresh start, proceeded for three (3) miles, when we camped for day among some tea-tree. Starting again at 7 p.m., struck lake at two (2) miles, and followed it down to 12, doing in all 124 miles, or 214 for day.
Oct. 19. - Struck our outgoing pad, and after going six (6) miles, camped in shade for the day. Started at sundown; we travelled all through the night, and arrived at the native well just after sunrise.
Oct. 20. - Cleaned out well and watered camels, and after breakfast we rigged a shade and had a few hours sleep. Immense numbers of birds appear to water here, arriving just at sunrise and again about an hour before sunset.
Oct. 21. - Made a bough shade and got things snug around camp. Found piece of native boomerang amid old camp fires. [62]
Friday, May 28. - Travelling eight (8) miles this morning, we returned to Joanna Spring, and camped to allow our horses to recruit.
Saturday, May 29. - Myself, Mr. Ord, and two (2) trackers, with Yallamerri as guide, started in a South-Easterly direction to try and find Bundir Water, of which natives had previously informed me. Yallamerri explains that that water is at present dead -  Bundir purrunng napa. But we could not make him understand that we merely wanted to see the place. After going eight (8) miles, the whole distance having recently been burnt, he told us the waters round about were all dead and not springs -  Waddji tcharramnarra  - that the only spring water was far away East-South-East, and it would take three (3) sleeps to reach the spots.
Returning to Joanna Spring we questioned the natives, and they said there was another spring to the Westward, but not in their country. They also knew nothing of a water called Lambeena, which, in my opinion, must therefore be a considerable distance from here. Travelled sixteen (16) miles per day.
Sunday, May 30. - Started on return journey, travelling twenty (20) miles along our old camel pad. The natives we have taken as far as this for our own safety. They both fairly broke down this morning, when they found the direction we were taking them. And crying Sunndai they pretended great lameness. However, forcing them along for fourteen miles, they then forgot their ailments, and 'Yallamerri caught six (6) bandicoots amongst the clumps of porcupine grass.
Monday, May 31. - Presenting the natives with knives, handkerchiefs, some food and water, we liberated them, telling them they could go back again to Djillill ; they stood on the first sandridge and watched us out of sight. We travelled direct to Kullga-ngunn-ngunn, finding plenty of water in the well.
Travelled for day eighteen (18) miles.
Tuesday, June 1. - Travelled to Ngowailarra, seventeen miles. Found some natives had camped here a night during our last visit. Watered the horses at the well.
Wednesday, June 2. - Passed Dillawuddi and Tanndulla, thence North-North-East for four (4) miles, camping at a dry soakage well. Travelled 1.5 miles.
Thursday, June 3. - Now bearing 347deg. East we travelled direct for Joal-joal Hill, arriving at same at nineteen (19) miles. I have named this remarkable-looking feature Craven Ord Hill, after Sub-inspector Ord, who has been a kind friend and companion to me, and through whose valuable assistance I have been enabled to rescue the bodies of our comrades from this cruel desert.
Friday, June 4. - Travelled direct to Collins Springs, eighteen (18) miles for day. This is a beautiful water, and apparently wholesome.
Saturday, June 5. - Followed course of Nerrima Creek for seventeen (17) miles, and camped on good feed South of a large waterhole.
Sunday, June 6. - Followed Nerrima Creek to its junction with the Fitzroy, camping a short distance beyond Gregory's Station.
Travelled eighteen (18) miles.
Monday, June 7. - Travelled to Upper Liverynga Station, fourteen miles. Here we met Mr. McLarty, who gave us a kind reception, and expressed his pleasure at learning that we had at last been successful, and his regrets that the Expedition had had so melancholy an ending.
Tuesday, June 8. - Travelled via Mount Anderson to Liverynga Station. Mr. Hutton, the general manager, was absent from the latter place.
Wednesday, June 9. - Travelled to Yeeda Cattle Station, spending the night with the manager, Mr. Clifton.
Thursday, June, 10. - Reached Derby and telegraphed result of Expedition to Adelaide and Perth, from which places I received many messages of congratulation and sympathy. I also telegraphed to Colonel Philips thanking him for the valuable assistance rendered me by the Fitzroy police. Sub-Inspector Ord has kindly invited me to be his guest whilst remaining here. He has also undertaken the whole of the arrangements necessary in connection with the attention and shipping of the remains of our comrades to Adelaide.