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Title: Journal of Dr. Leichhardt's Third Expedition. Author: Ludwig Leichhardt, edited by Rev. W.B. Clarke. * A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook * eBook No.: 1305281h.html Language: English Date first posted: September 2013 Date most recently: September 2013 Produced by: Ned Overton. Project Gutenberg Australia eBooks are created from printed editions which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular paper edition. Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this file. This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg Australia Licence which may be viewed online.
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Production Notes and Introductory:
This work, which appeared in "Waugh's Australian Almanac" for 1860, was prepared by Leichhardt's good friend, Rev. W.B. Clarke in 1859 from Leichhardt's actual journal. Clarke's introduction provides context.
The first set of asterisks, for Leichhardt's entry of 20th August, most probably refer to Emmeline Macarthur. At the end of Leichhardt's entry of 24th August, initials M., H. and T. refer almost certainly to John Mann, Hovenden Hely and Henry Turnbull, participants in his abortive second expedition, which only reached the Peak Range.
Added as an Appendix are two articles published in The Sydney Morning Herald either side of the third expedition. These articles are available on the National Library of Australia's "Trove" website. The first is from Ludwig Leichhardt to his friend Lt. Robert Lynd, telling of the events of the second expedition.
The second item is a summary of the journal by Leichhardt for the Sydney Morning Herald. It was published just after he returned Sydney and less than two months before he departed on his fateful final journey. In this article there are a few small differences between the table here and the one which Rev. Clarke supplied to Daniel Bunce for Bunce's book covering Leichhardt's second expedition, "Australasiatic Reminiscences".
A second map of the Balonne region, which Leichhardt made at Cecil Plains Station at the time of the first letter, is also added at the end. This map was given to Henry Russell, owner of Cecil Plains, as detailed in his "Genesis of Queensland", available on Project Gutenberg Australia.
Events relating to Leichhardt around this time are:
|23 July 1847||Ludwig Leichhardt returns to Darling Downs (Blyth's) from Second Expedition, to Peak Range.|
|30 July 1847||L.L. writes letter to Lt. Robert Lynd from Russell's Cecil Downs; published in S.M.H., 21 August 1847. (Appendix; 1.)|
|9 Aug. 1847|| L.L. leaves on Third Expedition from Cecil Downs
to Maranoa River and Fitzroy Downs.
Party: L.L., Daniel Bunce, Fred Isaac, James Perry, Wommai.
|1 Sep. 1847||Edmund Kennedy at Camp K/IV. on part of the "Victoria River".|
|20 Sep. 1847||L.L. returns from Third Expedition to Cecil Plains.|
|9 Oct. 1847||L.L. arrives in Sydney on "Tamar"; Summary of Third Expedition (Appendix, Part 2 here); published in S.M.H., 11 October 1847. (Appendix; 2)|
|4 Dec. 1847||L.L. leaves Sydney on fatal Fourth Expedition.|
Introduction, by Rev W.B. Clarke.
Journal of Dr. Leichhardt's Third Expedition.
Leichhardt's Letter to Lynd, S.M.H., 21 Aug 1847.
S.M.H. Article, 11 October, 1847.
Chart to illustrate the routes of Dr. Leichhardt in 1847.
Map prepared by Leichhardt at Cecil Plains Station. [at end.]
EDITED BY THE
M.A., F.G.S., F.R.G.S., &c.
Source: Waugh's Australian Almanac, 1860, pp. 54-66.
In the year 1847, after his return from the unsuccessful expedition of the previous year to Peak Range, Leichhardt made a short journey to the westward of Darling Downs, for the purpose of connecting his own lines of previous exploration with the country along the Maranoa, traversed by the late Sir T. L. Mitchell, during his expedition to the head of the Victoria River, in the 1846, and subsequently by Mr. Kennedy.
In the letters I addressed to the Sydney Morning Herald, in August 1858, and in the paper read before the Royal Geographical Society of London, in the same year, on the "Desert" in connection with the expeditions in search for Leichhardt, I quoted certain passages from the following diary, which is the only record of the expedition of 1847.
It appears, therefore, advisable, that the diary itself, which has never before been published, should now see the light; for it not only completes the history of Leichhardt's expeditions up to the fatal one of 1848, but furnishes to the enquirer the authority upon which I rested some of the conclusions respecting certain matters involved in my discussion of Leichhardt's fate.
The account of the expedition now published, begins at Mr. Gogg's Station on the Downs, and terminates, in fact, on the Maranoa; but the return route being different from the westward route, the following pages give, in fact, the details of two explorations.
The chart appended is a reduced copy of the original M.S. chart given to me by Leichhardt on his return. Scale one-ninth.
The country described is now, I believe, occupied; but the diary gives the condition of it before occupation, and is, so far, interesting to geographers.
There are two striking correspondences, under date of 27th August, with notices in the "Tropical Australia" of Mitchell, at page 152 and at page 379, which may merit remark. Both L. and M. mention—the one a river, the other a large creek, having "reedy waterholes"—bordered by Acacia pendula (M.) or long linear-leaved Acacia (L.) Both describe a double branch of this water. Mitchell's locality (26 deg. 42 min. 27 sec. S.[)] was not reached by Leichhardt (26 deg. 40 min. S.) till three days after he came upon the features he describes; we see, therefore, how remarkably the character of the rivers in Australia is persistent, and how nearly, by accurate descriptions, their features may be recognized. Mitchell first called attention to this fact, and we have here an undesigned coincidence illustrative of it.
Again, Mitchell mentions on his return from the Victoria, that on the Balonne, one of the "cheering" peculiarities of the scene was "the merry notes of numerous birds," and we have Leichhardt, stating—"I could not help remarking how cheerfully the birds sing near these creeks; the Oreoica (the ventriloquist), the Magpie, the little Flycatcher, and several others made themselves incessantly heard."
There is also a general agreement between the two explorers respecting the temperature of that region. Mitchell gives in many instances a sunrise temperature so low as 19 deg. F. and 20 deg. F., and Leichhardt, in September, mentions ice, and a temperature of 24 deg. and 26 deg.
As evidencing, moreover, an additional proof of the general extent of atmospherical influences over wide tracts in Australia, (of which I gave several examples in the Notes on Kennedy's Expedition, in the Journal of the Geographical Society vol. xxii) it may be mentioned that Leichhardt says he had ice on the Maranoa in 26 deg. 53 min. S. on the night of 31st August, 1847; and on turning to my own journal I find that at St. Leonard's, at 11 p.m., 31st August, and again at 8 a.m., 1st September, the temperature was 47 deg., and on 31st August, at 7 a.m., 42 deg. I find also frost occurred here on 1st and 2nd September, and on the 3rd it was "cold." Leichhardt mentions ice on the 1st, and says the "southerly" wind was very chilly on the 3rd; the wind here being from S.E.; that night the temperature here was as high as from 53 deg. to 56 deg., and on the Maranoa, the night was extremely mild;" The thermometer at sunrise being 54 deg. whilst here it was nearly the same. We learn also, that the wind there was "easterly"; it was S.E. here, becoming due east on the 5th September.
Again, on the night of the 9th September Leichhardt mentions that it was mild—and on the 10th he had rain, thunder and westerly wind; at St. Leonard's the wind was from N. and N.W., and on the 9th there were a hot wind lightning and the appearance of a heavy storm, with rain on the evening of the 9th and the 10th.
Lastly, the northerly wind of the night of the 26th August and Leichhardt, was similar to the N.E. wind which commenced here the same day and became north on the next; a heavy gale blowing the while from the north along the east coast of Tasmania.
The only other observation I have to make on this diary is, that Leichhardt mentions the existence of some probably new animal, from traces of burrows of a peculiar kind, observed on 26th August on the Horse-track River, and he makes further mention of it on the 7th of September as burrowing in "red soil." Now Mitchell mentions (Tropical Australia, p.150) that the "red" decomposed rock of the country on the Cogoon was "hollowed out by some burrowing animal, whose tracks had opened ways through the thick thorny scrub," enabling him to lead his horses to the top of Mount Red Cap. As these traces of the supposed new animal extend over several miles of country, it may be of use, if some settler there will endeavour to ascertain what this animal is, and whether it is really—new.
St. Leonard's, 18th October, 1859.
Monday, the 15th [sic] August, 1847.—We were encamped on Acacia Creek, where we arrived yesterday evening very late in coming from Gogg's, mistaking Gogg's Station road for Windeyer's Dray-road. Windeyer has built a bridge over the Dogwood Creek, which we did however not see. The waterholes had so steep banks that our mules and horses went very far in search of water. The boiling of our salt mear, with which Gogg had kindly provided us, took also a long time. We did not start before 12 o'clock; travelled 2½ miles N.W. to Dogwood creek; went about ½ mile up it to our crossing place; travelled down 2½ miles S. and S.W. to the crossing place of my first expedition. The ground along the ridges, either very rotten of Cypresspine ridges, from the crossing place of my first expedition, 3 miles N.W. along a many winding creek, with many lagoons and water-gums. Wommai shot here three ducks. We passed the while-tree camp, crossed the creed, which is here lined with a small Tea-tree and has rocky holes. We travelled N.W. about 6½-7 miles. Acadia underwood, the Tamarind myrtle, the glaucous narrow-leaved Ironbark were prevailing timber. We crossed two rocky watercourses, the last of which spread out higher up in narrow water Gum-tree flats. Here our dogs ran a native dog, but did not kill him. The country opened—several ridges and hills, one of which I descended to the southward; came to a watercourse which went west, and found very soon water—about 14 miles in 5¾ hours.
Tuesday, the 17th August.—Yesterday, about five-six species of Acacia were found in blossom; the colour of all is yellow; one has a pinnate leaf the others phyllodia. One of the glaucous phyllodia resembles so much the pinnate one that I should not be surprised if they were only sexually different; the Acacia with hooked phyllodia, which I found formerly, was not met with, as I kept to the left of my former tracks. To-day we found a small shrubby Grevillea, with iron-coloured blossoms, it grew principally in the rusty-gum forest. A small shrub spreading out in round patches, belonging to the Lythrum tribe (10 stam. 1 pist.) was growing in similar localities. We followed the watercourse for a short distance—it turned to the S.W.; I kept W. and came on another watercourse which I equally followed; it turned also S.W. and S. After 3 miles we came to the large creek, which, no doubt, is my Bottle-tree-scrub creek. It has abundance of water and its bed is sandy and sound; parallel lagoons in the large grassy valley with fine Water-gum-trees—the timber was Ironbark, Gum, Cypresspine, Forest-oak—Bricklow scrub was seen to the right.—Three miles farther through rusty-gum forest, we came to a fine rocky creek with plenty of water, but stiff grasses and grass-tree; 1½ miles further another watercourse, and shortly afterwards another joining the former; the remaining 3 miles were fine undulating or flat, Ironbark forest well grassed, very open. At the end of the stage, about 12 miles W.S.W. from our last night's camp, a fine chain of ponds full of water in a very open country, with Dombomgum prevailing; the flats with Apple-tree. A kangaroo was chased by Camden into a waterhole, and shot by Wommai. We saw long patches of forest-land burnt by the natives—kangaroo bones and broken emu eggs in an old camp—to-day and yesterday, fine weather, but cloudy—the night clear, the latter part of it cold with heavy dew.
Wednesday, the 18th August.—After having finished our Kangaroo tail soup, and a good sized piece of damper, we started full of anticipations of what the day would bring. The country kept its open character for about 1½ miles, when we came on a good sized creek, with water almost running, at least filtering through the sands and pebbles. Our course was S. 70 deg W. We continued for about 2½ to 3 miles longer, the forest became close and when we turned a little to the right in order to avoid it, I came again on the creek we had left. We followed it up for about 2 miles. Hills and ledges of rock enclosed it from both sides. When we ascended the gully which formed its head, we came on a tableland with patches of the hook-leafed acacia and of Baekea. Another species of Acacia, the long branches of which covered with yellow blossoms formed as many rays, made a pleasing impression on the eye; a species of Hakea with red blossoms and the leaves of Ac. pungens but pinnatifid, was also tolerably abundant. Two miles further, during which the country fell towards S.E., I came on another creek with sharp rocky ledges on which Boronia latifolia? grew. We now changed our course to S.W. and when this brought us to another rocky creek, we turned to the southward in order to come to a less broken country. We had scarcely left this creek when Bricklow made its appearance to the right and left. Box with Vitex formed the forest between the rush of waters to the southward. We followed this and came to dry waterholes—the scrub continued and the box flat widened, and when we turned round the scrub to the S.W. we passed for 4 miles over most beautiful open box ridges. Myall grew on several spots; the open country extended to the S.E. as far as the eye could reach. At the end of the stage we came to a fine creek with very large ponds of water, which no doubt are permanent. Musselshells are everywhere; Myall is abundant; the sandflies are troublesome, first part of last night cloudy, latter part clear. Thermometer at sunrise 38 deg. Slight airs from N.W.
Thursday, the 19th August.—We travelled about 5 miles to the westward; for 2 miles the open ridges continued; but soon Vitex and Myall scrub filled the box forest and further on treeless plains surrounded with scrub, which reminded me of the scrub plains of the Dawson, enticed me on in the same course. Dense scrub and scrubby hills however stopped my progress, and I had to beat back following the outline of the scrub. I went to the S.E. and even to the eastward, pushed through some Bricklow scrub and came at last to a lower part of the creek which we had left and which ran S.E. & S. and turned at our present camp to the S.S.W. From the scrub plains we saw blackfellows' smoke to the southward. The country along the creek is open with Myall and Box, the waterholes are large, deep and reedy, and it seems that this creek forms the outline of a scrubby country, and is the receptacle of its waters. Wommai shot a duck—we saw many kangaroos. It was cloudy in the afternoon; slight wind from the southward. Sandflies made their appearance; swallows and orewills.
Friday, the 20th August.—My latitude is 26 deg. 39 min., thermometer 40 deg. Night dewy not too cold. Wommai had tethered the horse too near the boggy waterhole, it went into the water and got bogged. After much trouble we succeeded in getting it out. Breakfast, fat cake (3 lbs.) and one black duck. I wished to follow the creek, which I hoped would turn to the S.W. I was however mistaken, it went to the S.E. Now I left it and passed some Myall groves and Box trees with Vitex underwood and entered the scrub in a due west direction; this scrub was of the same composition as the Flourgill, patches of Casuarina, of Bricklow, either in shrubs or trees, rises of Cypresspine and narrow-leaved Ironbark. One of these rises was higher than the other and it seemed to me that it formed a watershed, the creeks E. of it going to the E. and S.E.; those to the West of it going to the Southward. After 9 miles westing and slightly southing I came on a watercourse going to the westward which I followed down. It soon brought me to a larger creek, with as fine ponds of water as those in the creek we had left. Here our dogs started an emu, with a great number of young ones; the mother defended her brood against Camden, but ran away when Wommai came with his horse. Chase was given; but it was unsuccessful. I followed the large creek for about 4 miles. It is very open with Box ridges, which are perfectly sound, and Myall groves occasionally along its banks. On the patches of young grass, numerous emus must have fed, for their dung was very abundant. When the creek turned to the southward (its course had been W. and even N.W.) we passed over the ridge and dropped into the valley of another creek, equally provided with water. I dare say we came out 13 miles W., 20 deg. S. Beautiful weather; cumuli during the afternoon; I suffered a great deal of palpitation of the heart (perhaps in consequence of strong tea and smoking); I dreamt of * * * and * * * * * she was as blooming and beautiful as ever, and showed (as I dreamt at least) some solicitude about me.
Saturday, the 21st August.—We had scarcely travelled 1½ miles to the westward, when we came to a small creek with the usual character, shallow beds and sedgy boggy water holes, with a good supply of bad water. Continuing to a Bricklow shrub which we skirted, and continued over fine Box and silver-leaved Iron-bark hills for about 2½ miles, when a large creed was before us running N.—S.; the hills rose higher on its right bank, and I thought of seeing plains gleaming through the forest—I was however mistaken; for after 2 miles of travelling we entered a most infernal scrub, through which we worked for about 4 miles, when we came to an opening and a watercourse, which we followed down for about 8 miles; it soon took the character of the other creeks, and its holes were excellently supplied with water; the natives seemed particularly fond of it, for their humpies were almost on eery waterhole, and they had burned the old grass, probably to have a chance at the numerous kangaroos, one of which we saw slowly jumping from one of the waterholes into the scrub. The ducks were very numerous. Wommai shot one, and Mr. Bunce two. Our tether horse, which had been bogged two days ago, was almost knocked up; the night was rather mild; the boggy nature of the waterholes has the great inconvenience, that our mules and horses are too afraid to approach, and go, consequently, without their fair allowance of water.
Sunday, the 22nd August.—We had a duck breakfast, and started early in order to follow the creek farther down; for the scrub prevented us taking a more advantageous course, the creek running S.S.E. and perhaps S.E. Lower down the Box-flats became puffy; and still lower the Cypresspine and the White-gum appeared on the rising ground; the waterholes got partly (particularly on the right side) rocky; rotten sandstone. After about 7 miles collateral lagoons formed; low Box-flats, all inundated during high water, extended along the creek; the rising ground was very rotten; the scrub seemed to recede, and we left the creek, steering for the smoke of the natives. As we went along to the S.W. and westward, skirting the scrub, smoke rose all along to the S.W., W. and N.W., and I expected a large creek before us. That was the case—after 3 miles travelling we came to the deep channel of a good-sized creek, larger than Dogwood Creek, with flood-marks above the banks. A large body of water must come down occasionally; the bed is sandy and sound; the water was still running; the character of the country is very much that of Dogwood Creek; Cypresspine and White-gum on a rotten soil; the natives appear very numerous. Mr Bunce and Wommai remained behind duck shooting, and have not yet arrived—I hope no accident has happened. A cold southerly wind was blowing the whole day; clouds passed in the morning, but disappeared about 9 o'clock. I suffered again from palpitations, though I have not smoked these two last days. Mr Bunce has told me many very annoying stories about M. . . . , H . . . . , and T . . . . . . . , which trouble me a great deal.
Wednesday, the 25th August.—The two absentees did not come up to the camp on Sunday evening nor during the forenoon on Monday; I consequently supposed that a serious accident had happened either to Mr Bunce or to Wommai, and resolved to return to the creek we had left, to ascertain in what direction they had gone. We fired again at sunset, but without receiving any answer, and I was in the greatest anxiety about their fate. Next morning, however, just when we were looking out for our horses, they arrived. They had continued down the creek without ascertaining the direction of our tracks; they had come to the junction of our creek with a very large one; had found three fresh horse-tracks, and supposing them our's had followed them until late at night; they had crossed the large creek, to which we had come on Sunday; next day they had still continued and had considered that the mule-tracks were wanting, but foolishly supposed that the natives had rushed us. They now returned and camped on Monday night again at the little creek where they had lost us. Next morning they had come on our returning tracks and had followed them to the camp; they had seen a great number of natives, and had spoken with some of them; they had seen the little gin with the white patch on the neck, who passed our camp in going up to the Bunya Bunya. The most careless inattention to our tracks had produced all this loss of time and all this anxiety. We saddled our mules, after their finishing their breakfast, and went on their tracks about 2 miles beyond Sunday Creek. The fresh tracks belonged to three horses, two of which were shod; one horse had a very broad hoof—one of the party had walked. The natives, whose fires were burning all about, and whose cooees and tomahawks we had heard in Sunday Camp, had followed those tracks which we supposed to be Archer's and Chauvel's, 2 miles below the junction of Sunday Creek with the supposed Dogwood Creek, and struck off to the westward, the creek turning a little to the southward. The country was the same as that between Bunce's and Sunday Creeks,—Cypresspine forest, with the glaucous pinnate Acacia in full blossom (a magnificent sight), the soil puffy; the Box flats near the river small—subject to inundations, with patches of bare rock towards the banks. After having left the river, we continued westward until scrubs compelled us to go to the southward. We skirted the scrubs, and made about 7½ miles W. 15 deg. S. and camped at a small scrubby creek, which, according to Wommai, joined the river about two miles lower down.
To-day, the 25th,—We skirted again the scrubs, and we succeeded in finding tolerable country about 4 miles to the N.W. It was an open Myall scrub with dense Bricklow to our right. We passed over a ridge of open forest land (narrow-leaved Ironbark and Cypresspine); about 1 mile further we saw the high hill to our left; the country, for the other 7 miles was, west—changingly open, undulating Box forest and scrub. One Dodonaea scrub pushed us again to the southward. We crossed the heads of several water-courses and a swamp about ½ mile to the east of a river which reminds me still stronger of the Robinson than Sunday Creek. It has a sandy bed, with tea-trees growing in it; it is not running, but the small pools are covered with ironocre; the waterholes are partly well boggy. Exactly at our crossing-place we found the tracks of a party of horsemen, which appear different from those of Archer, as the big-hoofed horse is wanting. Wommai says, "they were four persons."
August 26th.—Yesterday morning the thermometer was 24 deg., this morning, at sunrise, 38 deg. The first part of night cloudy—cleared up at 10 o'clock; we travelled about 14 miles due west; after having left the river, in the bed of which well-polished pieces of fossil wood and variously coloured flints were found, we passed over 1-1½ mile of grassy country with Appletree resembling that at Charley's Creek. After we passed for 5 miles through a scrubby box country with Bricklow, Myall and Vitex; for 2 miles the country opened into a pleasing Moreton Bay ash forest, with a large tree Acacia and clusters of Vitex. Here we met first with the deep burrow of an unknown animal—the open shaft was about 5 feet deep, and the burrow itself went from the bottom of it horizontally; it was about 1½ feet in diameter, the track resembled that of a child, the dung that of an old man kangaroo. From this open country which seemed to extend to the southward, we entered into a Dodonaea scrub for several miles and came out into a scrubby Cypresspine country with several fine Box hollows extending to the south by W., and joining probably a large creek from the northward with long reedy waterholes, with a sound bed, with fine watergum and small narrowleaved tea trees. The confines of the river are rather thickly wooded with Box saplings and Myall. The character of the country in general was scrubby, unfit for any pastoral purposes; but it is probable that it opens and improves along the river which I suppose to be to the southward. Our mule No.4 was bogged in the river of yesterday; horse tracks were seen coming from the westward; they belonged to 5 horses—two of which appeared to be leading horses. Four native companions [brolgas] and 4 small cranes were seen yesterday evening; a flight of ducks passed our camp during the night and went down the river. We live again on our dried beef for breakfast.
August the 27th.—When we were sitting last night near the fire, we heard the disagreeable call of a nightbird, a loud shrill "pish-sh-sh". Wommai watched it, and succeeded in shooting it; it proved to be the little owl Cyclops delicatula or elegans of Gould. Behind a little shrub a bird (probably a goatsucker) had camped for a long time, he had left a large heap of dung. The thermometer was 38 deg. immediately after sunrise; it is now at sunset 70 deg. We travelled about 20 miles west, 6 deg. south over the most miserable country. After 3½ hours we came to the first large creek, with sandy bed, reedy waterholes: small-leafed Tea-tree and long linear-leafed Acacia the natives were burning the grass near it. After 4½ hours from that creek we came to another equally large, inclining to the S.E., its bed equally sandy, its waterholes reedy. Near these creeks the country was tolerably open, but scarcely one mile from each, a nasty Dodonaea and Cypresspine scrub covered the whole intervening country. It seems that these scrubs cover ridges parallel to the creeks, for we saw the high land we had left, in form of a range from the west side of the first creek, and a large range was seen to the westward of the second creek on which we are encamped. Hakea lorea is still in blossom, Stenochilus grows abundantly in the openings of the Cypresspine scrub. The first part of last night was cloudy; it cleared up from the northward at 9 o'clock. In the afternoon to-day and yesterday, the clouds got very heavy—we had full moon yesterday.
I could not help remarking how cheerfully the birds sing near these creeks, the Oreoica, (the ventriloquist) the Magpie, the little Flycatcher, and several others make themselves incessantly heard.
August, the 28th.—The thermometer 32 deg. We travelled scarcely 2 miles, when we came to ridges which were covered with Dodonaea and Vitex and Cypresspine scrub; they extended 10 miles farther and were covered at their western half with scrub of the mountain Acacia of the worst description. The dead timber made the road extremely circuitous and the progress slow. The highest part was composed of various interesting aromatic shrubs of a species of Philotheca and of a red Metrosideros and two other rutaceous plants. Being tired of an apparently never-ceasing succession of these Acacia ridges, we took a watercourse, running W. 30 deg. S., which we followed down for 3 or 4 miles, when the waterholes became rocky, Watergum appeared round them, and they contained a supply of good water. We were encamped for a short time, and the fat cake not quite ready, when two natives walked boldly up after having cooeed and received our cooee in return. I met them with Mr. Isaacs about fifty yards from the camp, in order to ascertain something about the Balonne. I gave each of them three brass buttons, to show our friendly intentions, and gave them to understand that we were to sleep one night and then continue to the westward. A third youth approached afterwards; one of the old men was slim with a long beard and mustache, and very wild looking, the other was an elderly man, with a white beard, and of very quiet expression. We parted good friends, thought Mr. Bunce told me that he heard them talking near our waterhole—they came perhaps there to fetch water.
August the 29th.—Thermometer 34 deg. Sunday.
Tuesday, the 31st August.—We had a sound sleep, notwithstanding the want of water, which was not felt very much by any of the party. As soon as the mules came in we started and followed the watercourse for about 7 miles S.W. by S., when Cypresspine, rocky waterholes, Watergum and patches of fresh burnt grass appeared and the call of Grallium Australe indicated the presence of water. We made our breakfast and started, after two hours halt for 2 miles due west, when after crossing an open ridge of Moreton Bay ash and a slight hollow I found myself on Mitchell's and Kennedy's tracks; the dray-tracks of the first were almost entirely worn out by the succeeding rains; the three cart-tracks of Kennedy, with a great number of horses, were, on the contrary, very fresh. I followed the track to the northward and came, after about 3 miles, to a camp of Mitchell's, marked 80, on the river side. The river has lower down a broad sandy bed with lines of small trees, but is there without water; the large waterhole was surrounded with reeds. The country reminded me of Charly's Creek; the rises are frequently sandy with Cypresspine, Moreton Bay ash, Appletree, some few scattered silver-leaved Ironbark, and two species of Acacia (one drooping like that of Blackfellow Creek) the cocoa-tree Eos was seen on the patches of fresh burnt grass; I followed the track for 4 miles further; it left the river and passed open sandy Cypresspine ridges and through Vitex scrub. I camped at a fine waterhole in a good-sized creek, in latitude 26 deg. 53 min. The flats are Box forest, more or less open, as the young saplings form long stretches of underwood. We passed the bullock's head.
Chart to illustrate the routes of Dr. Leichhardt in 1847.
September the 1st.—Thermometer 26 deg. Ice in the bucket, not on the waterhole. Turned again to Mitchell's track which, after having past several sandy Cypresspine ridges, on one of which I saw a fine Sterculia tree and whole thickets of a shrubby Aster approached the river and followed it, in cutting its windings for about 9 miles, when we came to another camp of Kennedy's with one of the trees marked 79. We expected 81 and the lessening number puzzled us not a little. At this place the river is joined by a creek from the left, running N.N.E.-S.S.W., and by another larger one from the right, running about N.W.-S.E. The course of the river for the whole extent of 12½ miles is N.N.W. Its bed is still sandy with Tea-tree bushes growing in it, and with Water-gum and Apple-tree at its banks. The flats are more or less open, with Box trees and Box saplings. The track crosses the river and follows it at its right bank. Between the west creek and the river there is ridge and two rather prominent hills, with Cypresspine and very sandy slopes. Wommai chased here an emu without success, but saw from the slope two large hills to the northward, which I supposed to be Mount Bindango and Mount Abundance; we shall come to them to-morrow. Our fat is done, and we commence with gelatine soup. Lat. 26 deg. 40 min.
September the 2nd.—Thermometer 27 degrees at sunrise. After having menaged our soup of two ducks and a bronze-winged pigeon, we started following again Kennedy's dray track. After 4 miles we saw a hill to the left and went up to its top in order to have a view; there was a range to the eastward, striking nearly N.N.W.-S.S.E.; other ranges or ridges are to the northward. It was evident, that one old dray track returning was below Kennedy's fresh tracks; it was visible by the little trees being turned to the southward. The country appeared to me either scrubby or of the same description as I had seen beforehand on the river. Mr. Isaacs, however, said that the country appeared to open to the westward, and that it was possible that the little creek we had seen joining the river was the Cogoon of Mitchell. I went consequently to the westward and came again at first to Box ridges with some Myall, and afterwards to sandy Cypresspine ridges; these continued as a division of water to the westward; we kept S.W. and S.S.W., and came at last on a forky creek and more to the southward on a chain of waterholes which brought me to the supposed Cogoon. The country did not change; the Cypresspine ridges approached frequently the creek, and formed high rocky banks; when they receded limited Box and Apple-tree flats intervened; the creek contains plenty of water, in sound good-sized water-holes. Here Mr. Bunce observed the faint track of a cart, which was probably Mitchell's reconnoitering track. The little cruciferous plant is very frequent on the sandy flats and slopes on the slopes of the east range these sands seemed equally to exist; they first made me believe that they were plains or downs.
September 3rd.—Thermometer 40 deg. We heard distinctly the knocking of a tomahawk last night, shortly after our arrival, and this morning we past the still burning fire of a native camp, not ½ a mile from our own. It is probable that the passing by of our horses and mules last night had made him go away. We went down the creek to the junction for nearly 7 miles; the country was still the same limited Apple-tree and Box flats, and sandy Cypresspine ridges. From the junction (camp 79) we returned on our old track a little below camp 80. The country appeared to me best round the camp 79; the sandy ridges are very bad; the country round number 80 is extremely open, with Box, but there are many hollows which are evidently under water during any continuance of rainy weather. Wommai shot a black cormorant which was skinned and put into the soup; it had an extremely nasty smell. Mr. Isaacs has recommended Johnny cakes for the morning of the 4th of September. Southerly wind very chilly. Our old horse knocked up, and we had to leave it behind.
September the 4th.—Night extremely mild; thermometer, at sunrise, 54 deg. Easterly wind rather chilly; first part of the last night cloudy. A whole swarm of white and rose Cockatoos were seen on the ground, on an apparently dried-up lagoon—they probably were feeding on some roots. Wommai had observed a large hole, which the natives had dug to obtain roots, the chewed parts of which were round the hole, he said they belonged to young Sterculia. We travelled about 4 miles south, when we came to the place where we first had met the dray road of Sir Thomas Mitchell. A little further south we marked a tree with a cross and an L in the wood. We travelled about 4 miles further and came to a camp of Kennedy's on a lagoon in the bed of the little creek we had camped at on the 30th August, and which we had left the 31st. It is remarkable how far these waters run parallel to each other. Fourteen miles further we came again on a camp of Kennedy, where we had tried to obtain water in the sandy bed of the river; the river had become very small and looked more like an ana-branch of that we had left at camp 80. It seemed however out of doubt that it was the same river. We continued a short distance lower down and camped without water, the whole country about us being burnt and burning. Wommai saw a native who was stooping down and apparently occupied with digging roots. He decamped as soon as he saw us. The country for the first 10 miles from camp 80 was very open and extended a good way off the river; further on hollows with water Box becomes frequent and it got densely wooded with saplings. All the hollows and lagoons were dry. Sandy ridges approached the river, and at one place a hilly country covered with a green looking viscous grass had much the appearance of real downs. But the grass was harsh and stiff and good neither for cattle nor sheep. A new species of Grevillea with downy pods was growing here. Mr. Bunce collected a fine species of Senecio, a new Gnaphaluim and a yellow cruciferous plant.
September the 5th.—We travelled 15 miles further over a densely wooded country, with many hollows and dried-up lagoons, without finding water. We passed some high rocky ridges covered with scrub. At the end of this stage we came to a camp of Sir Thomas marked 81; the creek was even smaller than before. Supposing that water would not be very far, I rode over to the right side of the river and found a fine lagoon, which was however drying up; here we encamped and satisfied our thirst and hunger. Mr. Isaacs shot a black Ibis. As we were riding along we saw smoke of the natives to the south, and this smoke seemed to hang down from a small cloud which dissolved and formed again several times. The direction of the river was S.E. as much as I could judge; for I was too tired to carry my compass constantly in my hand. Mr. Bunce found a yellow variety of the scrub Stenochilus, the red variety of which is also common. Perry had the shivers last night, and Wommai is not well; could the cormorant have anything to do with it? Perry is well again to-day. These long stages are extremely tiresome. Every one has taken advantage of the early camp to wash his shirt. The night was mild, but the wind shifting during the day is very chilly.
September the 7th.—My latitude at Mitchell's camp lagoon was 27 deg. 28 min. As I intended to go only to 27 deg. 30 min. I continued on the 6th along the river for about 4 miles; at 2 or 3 miles we found a fine waterhole in the bed, and thousands of Wood-swallows hovering about it. I now struck off to the eastward and soon entered into a scrubby country, which continued for 12 miles, when we were compelled to camp without water at a small scrub plain. We tied our horses up and started early this morning, continuing to the eastward. The scrub which was composed yesterday of Box and Vitex and Dodonaea with native Lemon and Goodia, of Bricklow and Casuarina, and of Cypresspine thickets, was principally composed of the latter with Stenochilus on a sandy soil; the Box openings became more frequent and Apple-tree and Moreton Bay ash appeared as we approached a creek with a fine large water-hole which runs W.N.W. by E.S.E. We saw again the burrows of the new animal in the red soil on which the Cypresspine grows, but its channels were not so deep, and there were many holes close together. Mr Bunce shot yesterday male and female of Platycercus Gilberti, the yellowhead Philotis was also shot. We travelled about 6 miles to-day. Large heaps of the straw of the native millet were lying on the little scrub plain, the natives had no doubt made their harvest there. Mr. Isaacs shot a black Ibis on Mitchell's Lagoon, and we had it for yesterday's breakfast.
September the 7th, Evening.—After 2½ miles travelling to the east passing all along through a low Box country with frequent hollows; we arrived at the running river which we considered identical with the Smoky one of Mr. Bunce; its bed was sandy with many tea-trees and Water-gum, but no Casuarina. We followed it up for about 7 miles, and passed three watercourses, two of them with waterholes appeared to be creeks, one perhaps the Lagoon river east of the Graftonridges. The low box-flats and hollows extended along the river, but farther off it seemed tolerably open, and we passed over a little plain. Myall was observed in scattered specimens and the Moreton Bay Ash and the Apple-tree make their appearance with the Water-box. Swainsonia is very abundant; two wood ducks were shot.
September the 8th.—Mr. Bunce discovered this morning very old horse dung at the very place where we encamped. We continued to follow up the river, and had gone scarcely 3 miles, when dray tracks were observed; they were very old and faint, and belonged to Mitchell's Expedition. Fresh horse tracks were seen coming down the River, and apparently turning up to the N.W., on Mitchell's track, 29th April 1846. These horse tracks were observed all along our road, and at one place an L was cut into a small water gum tree with a black-fellow's tomahawk. We travelled about 8½ miles N.N.E., when a large creek joined from the northward (it was gently running according to Mr. Isaacs) and the river now took an almost due easterly direction; we followed it for 8 miles farther E. by N.; the Water-box flats were very extensive; the flood-marks very high; the lagoons became more numerous, and a very large one was seen not long before camping, where the river took a northerly and even westerly bend; its bed was sandy or pebbly and sound; it was lined with Tea-tree, and the wider holes with reeds; they were teeming with ducks, which our sportsmen were not able to kill. It was a fine day, with a gentle easterly breeze; the country was, in general, closely wooded, but some patches were very open and promised fair to widen farther off the river; in some places the banks of the river were scrubby, one with Bricklow, mostly with Box-saplings and Vitex. The Unio is still the only shell in the camps of the natives which seems very numerous; this makes me believe, that the Condamine has nothing to do with it, as it contains mostly Anodontas with thick black epidermis.
September the 9th.—The night mild—thermom. at sunrise, 42 deg. We came about 18 miles E.N.E., over a country very similar to that of yesterday. We passed some fine open patches but sandy soil, and Cypresspine and Moreton Bay ash. We crossed a creek from the northward, about 9 miles from the camp, and a second very large one about 15 miles; the Water-box flats and lateral hollows were likely yesterday's, several chains of ponds. Towards the large creek the Myall became very abundant. We passed, at about 12 miles, a tree marked H and another after having crossed the largest creek, the latter was in a very good sound country, however, still with the Moreton Bay ash. Wommai shot 5 ducks, and got 5 young black cormorants out of a nest, which was built on a branch overhanging the water. A very downy Plantago is very common; the onion-leaved Antherium likewise.
September the 10th.—The night was mild though clear; in the morning it became overcast, and when we started it began to rain, sometimes in heavy showers, with a light westerly movement in the clouds, and thunder. When we were encamped at about 4 o'clock, a heavy thunderstorm came on from the westward, and it was fortunate that we had succeeded in lighting a fire, around which we patiently waited for its termination, having rolled our blankets round us. The following night was overcast again with the exception of one clearing. In the morning of the 11th, it cleared up perfectly and became very fine. We had new moon the 9th Greenwich time. We crossed a small creek after about nine miles travelling, and a very large one with broad sandy bed; about 4 miles farther, the country was still closely wooded with very open, puffy, Moreton Bay ash and Cypresspine rises, patches of Bricklow and Vitex scrub. We went about 6 miles N. 70 deg. W. Wommai shot some ducks for breakfast.
September the 11th.—The river easted still more to-day than yesterday; we travelled about 18 miles E. by N., and encamped a short distance off the river, at a little scrub creek; we crossed, in 9 miles, the Horse track river, which preserved its former character, and a fine creek containing large lagoons of water, which, no doubt, is the creek we had camped at in going out the night before we arrived at the Horse track river. Mr. Bunce and Wommai, who had been down the river when they were lost, stated, that opposite our camp a large lagoon existed near the river, covered with Pelicans and every description of water-fowl.
September the 12th.—The night was very dewy. We had last night 5 teal, and this morning 3 teal; one black duck and a wallobi; Wommai had shot 6 and 7 at one shot, but had lost five of them in riding along. We had not gone more than 3 miles east, when we came to the river; the country was scrubby with the exception of one or two fine puffy hills; the Bricklow scrub continued some way up the river, which, after its cessation, makes a great bend to the southward; Wommai and Bunce had camped the first night below this scrub. Up to the Sunday River the country is again timbered with Cypresspine, Moreton Bay ash, silver-leaved Ironbark; the underwood is a glaucous pinnate-leaved Acacia; the soil is puffy; water-box flats with gullies intervene between these detached stretches of open country. We crossed the Sunday River and Bunce's Creek, and camped about 3 miles higher up. The Emu-herb, a legumenous aromatic plant is plentiful, and our mules and horses enjoy it greatly, but it grows not on the puffy soil. The country which was burnt and burning when we went down, is now clothed with green grass, which looks particularly fresh after the rain of the 10th. We saw at first two, and afterwards one emu; Camden is too heavy for them. The creek has decreased greatly in size; it is rocky and its banks frequently perpendicular precipices; it cannot be the Condamine, but it must have something to do with Dogwood Creek or Bottle-tree Creek, as it is still running. I have forgotten to mention that we saw a great number of very large cockroach-like Orthopterous insects running over the ground, where the young grass did allow us to see the surface. They came out of their holes, no doubt, in consequence of the rain of the preceding day.
September the 13th.—We crossed the Smoky River and travelled about 11 miles east 15 deg. north. The first 3 miles were very open, some sound box country and puffy Cypresspine ridges. Here we entered into Bricklow and Casuarina scrub, and travelled in it for about 5-6 miles, when we came to a most beautiful open Box country, clothed with the rich green of young grass. Wommai gave chase to an old-man kangaroo, which Camden succeeded in keeping at bay until our gay sportsman shot him. His head was remarkably short and broad. An open Box-wood country on the hollow heads of little creeks particularly to the S.E. We had not continued more than 3 miles, when we met a large creek running strong S.-N. This is no doubt the river we left, having been joined by the two Emu creeks and by the small river next to them to the eastward. Diuvis maculata in blossom; its tubers have an agreeable though glutinous taste.
September the 14th.—The thermometer, at sunrise, 46 deg. The latitude by Altair 26 deg. 53 min. Last night we enjoyed one of the legs of the old-man kangaroo, which stewed for about three hours gave us a most excellent soup, mixed with a little flour. This morning we had the other leg, leaving the tail and rump for to-morrow's breakfast, and the fore quarters for the dogs. We travelled about 12 miles 15 deg. N.; the first 3 miles were an open Box country limited by a belt of Dodonaea scrub. Having passed it, we entered upon most beautiful scrub-downs, with small tufts of Bricklow, and with some isolated Box-trees; the grass was all burnt and looked now fresh and green. To the left dense Bricklow-scrub extended, to the right Box with Dodonaea and Vitex underwood; we passed over at least 4 miles of the downs, when we came again upon fine open Box-country, which extended for 5 miles, our course was then intercepted by a large creek, with high rocky ledges and running water. It formed a large pond in winding to the S.W., and to the east again. This pond was nearly 1½—2 miles long, deep; but a rocky bed, now empty; went across about that distance from the bottom of the pond; we followed the creek until we found a crossing-place, when we passed over to its left side. One mile before this crossing-place 3 trees, were marked with B, one of them was cut into the wood, the bark being removed. At the crossing, Wommai shot two Teals and one Blackduck, and observed cattle tracks. We followed the creek for about 3 miles higher up. Its banks were rather scrubby, with limited patches of good country; the opposite (right) side looked better. The question was what creek it was, and I am inclined to believe that it is Dogwood Creek. With this supposition my reckoning and several other circumstances agree. The flood marks are not so high as they were when we left the Condamine; the Anadonta is wanting, the creek is running and neither Charly's Creek nor the Condamine was; the Acacia, with glaucous phyllodia is very frequent; it was not so frequent at the Condamine. But the country has entirely changed, it is for the most part sound and Myall is common. It gets very cloudy, and a cold wind blew during the whole day from the eastward. The creek and the Box forest were full of horse-tracks as if by gentlemen examining the country.
Article in The Sydney Morning Herald, 21
August 1847, pages 2, 3)
(Trove article 12897713-3)
(Extract of a letter from Dr. Leichhardt.)
Russel's Station, Darling Downs,
1st August, 1847.
The news of my return to the Downs will no doubt have reached you by the last steamer from Moreton Bay. I had hoped to go by her to Sydney, and that expectation, added to a very severe rheumatism in my hands, prevented my writing by her. I wrote to you last from Charley's Creek, mentioning the loss and recovery of my mules, horses, and cattle. I had despatched Mr. Hely in quest of intelligence of Sir T. Mitchell's expedition, of whose return I had been informed, but by some accident of the post, neither your letters nor Sir Thomas's despatches ever reached me. Mr. Hely, Mr. Turnbull, and Brown joined me forty miles farther on my journey, and we travelled quietly without accident down the Dawson, then running so strong as to compel us to take advantage of a large tree which had fallen across it, to convey our baggage over. At Ruined Castle Creek I left one of my horses which had become hopelessly lame. At Expedition Range, the rains set in, and the ground soon became so boggy that our mules sank to their bellies, and we made but slow progress. All the water-courses and creeks between Expedition and Christmas Ranges became flooded, and compelled us to make a long roundabout to head them.
Deception Creek and Comet Creek were swollen into immense rivers, and all the surrounding country was inundated. I had feared the Mackenzie would stop us, and on our arrival at that river, after seven weeks' travelling from Dried-beef Creek, my fears were but too fully realised, There had been several cases of illness as we travelled through the scrub, but here the whole party were attacked by fever, which subsequently assumed the character of fever and ague. I suffered from it for nine days, and it left me very weak for a long while after. We had to wait for three weeks before the river was fordable, and after getting over the party were so exhausted by illness, we found ourselves wholly unable to proceed, and had to remain for three weeks longer to recover our strength; no doubt the disease was very depressing, though not of that dangerous character which the party apprehended, most of whom had hitherto been unacquainted with illness of any kind. Our energy, however, was much broken, and our bodily strength entirely prostrated for the time. From the idea that change of place and slight exertion would operate beneficially on our health, I resolved to move on with the strongest of the party, and accordingly proceeded with the stock towards Peak Range, which I knew to be only sixty miles from the junction of the Comet and Mackenzie rivers. After the first stage, however, our helplessness became so apparent, that I saw the impracticability of dividing our party, and returned with my healthy black (poor Brown was quite knocked up), and brought in the remainder of the party with all our luggage, to my halting ground. Here our goats and sheep strayed away from the camp. No one was able to watch them, and we were at length compelled to leave them behind.
After a rest of three days we again moved on for three days more, making about thirty miles in all, and reached the Downs of the Upper Mackenzie and Peak Range. Here the loss of the horses compelling us to stop, and as we had no more sheep, we killed the first head of cattle. I had some hope that the change of diet, from fat mutton to dried beef, might operate favourably on our health, but in this also I was disappointed, as the rain set in as the meat was drying, and it consequently become tainted and unpalatable. After having stopped here for nearly a fortnight, we again advanced about ten miles farther. The black whom I had sent for the cattle, mistook our track and passed us when he had found them, and after watching them, left them during the night to rejoin us. During the interval they strayed away. I again sent two of the party in pursuit, namely, Mr. Hely and Brown, and moved on my camp towards Peak Range. Unfortunately, Brown lost his horse the first night, and they were compelled to return to us for fresh horses and provisions, without having found the cattle. Thus the cattle got a long way in advance, became dispersed in the scrub, and frightened probably by the natives, became so wild that when Mr. Hely and the blacks again approached them, they were so wild, they only succeeded in bringing back nine out of thirty-seven, after a fortnight's absence from the camp, Here we killed another bullock and dried the meat, and endeavoured by using great vigilance to retain the others. But in spite of all our efforts the wild brutes broke away every night, and in five days we lost them altogether. Mr. Hely and Brown had again started in pursuit of the others, but after an absence of ten days, during which they had been overtaken by sickness, they returned unsuccessful. Nothing now was left but to go myself upon this errand, and accordingly I went with Jemmy, the black, to that part of our track which I thought they were most likely to have retreated to, and after a week's anxious search, I came upon four, which I brought back to camp, where I found all my companions ill with fever, and the mules and horses gone.
I now saw the thorough helplessness of our position, that all further endeavour was vain, and that we had nothing for it but a speedy return. I cannot express to you the extreme agony of mind I endured when this distressing conviction came upon me.
I immediately set about collecting the mules and horses, leaving the cattle in charge of the party. The mules had separated, which they had not done since leaving Charley's Creek. I followed six of them for ninety miles on our track towards Expedition Range, but could not overtake them, and was compelled to return to Camp, with seven others. On my arrival I found, as indeed I had anticipated, that my companions had not been able to retain the Cattle, which had gone off the morning after I left. They had, however, again secured them, and had killed one and dried the meat, which was of the greatest advantage to us. They had also recovered three horses and three mules, which thus increased our stock to ten horses and nine mules.
Leaving our tea, salt, shot, and other baggage behind, we started on our road home, and after travelling thirty days without any interruption we reached the camp of Messrs. Blyth and Che[au]vel, on the Condamine, on the 21st July, and on the 28th the station of Mr. H. S. Russel, on Darling Downs, where I propose to leave my things till a new party is organized, which I hope will be about the beginning of next May.
Notwithstanding the many unforeseen hardships we endured, my party behaved extremely well.
I am indeed sadly vexed by this disappointment: I find I have lost a year of my life in effecting nothing, and have been obliged to turn back from the very point at which I had proposed to strike to the westward. At the Downs I read the account of Sir T. Mitchell's discoveries. I find he has crossed, my track at Expedition Range, but farther to the westward than I did; his Mudge-kye is the most distant of my Christmas Range, his Mantuan Downs are my Albinia Downs; his Nogoa is my Comet River, though I did not go so far up as to see the junction of the Salvator and the Claude; and I am afraid that as his Belyando turns out to be the Cape, his Victoria will turn out to be the Clarke, the largest tributary of the Burdekin from the westward.
I am desirous to examine the country between my track and Fitz Roy Downs, which I shall do as soon as my rheumatism will allow me, for at present I am laid up with it.
Article in The Sydney Morning Herald, 11
October, 1847, page 1.
(Trove Article 12897022-3)
Sydney Morning Herald.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 11, 1847.
"Sworn to no Master, of no Sect am I."
We have the pleasure of announcing that Dr. Leichhardt has returned in good health to Sydney, and that nothing daunted by his late reverses, he has determined to make another attempt to cross to Swan River as soon as he can make the necessary arrangements. We have been favoured with the following narrative of his recent trip to Fitz Roy Downs.
An account of a journey to the westward of Darling Downs, undertaken with the view of examining the country between Sir Thomas Mitchell's track and my own.
I started from Mr. H. S. Russell's station on the 9th of August last, accompanied by Mr. F. N. Isaacs, Mr. Bunce, Mr. Perry, and my blackfellow. We followed the dray track to Mr. Gogg's sheep station, at the head of Acacia Creek, which is a tributary of Dogwood Creek. On the 15th we travelled down Acacia Creek about 12 miles W.N.W.; on the 16th we made Dogwood Creek at my old crossing-place, in latitude 26.24, and continued for about 10 miles N.W. by west, following a small creek up to its head, and coming to watercourses belonging to another creek which I had called Bottle-tree Creek on my first expedition. The country was scrubby with a few patches of open forest; the latitude of our camp was 26.20. On the 17th we followed the water-course down to Bottle-tree Creek, which was well supplied with water: we crossed it and came on a fine rocky creek with running water, about two miles W.S.W. from the latter; the intervening country was however a rotten, rusty-gum forest, with occasional patches of cypress pine and forest oak; we passed another dry creek in the same course and came to a fine open flat or undulating narrow-leaved ironbark forest, which seemed to continue to the eastward; we encamped on a chain of fine waterholes about twelve miles W.S.W. from our last camp. On the 18th we travelled about twelve miles and a half S.W.; two miles and a half from our camp we came to a good sized creek, with the water filtering through the sands and pebbles; in following it up between hills and ledges of rock, we came on a table-land with patches of scrubby underwood. To the S.W. there were other creeks and gullies, which compelled us to keep to the southward to come to a more open country. Here the bricklow scrub re-appeared, which, with one exception, we had not seen since we left the left side of Dogwood Creek. We entered upon a box flat, which widened as we followed down its dry watercourse, in a southerly and even south-easterly direction, and when the bricklow scrub, which skirted the flat ceased and allowed us to travel to the S.W., we passed for four miles over most beautiful open box ridges, well grassed and perfectly sound; this open country extended to the south-east as far as the eye could reach. In latitude 26.32 we came to a fine creek, with very large ponds of permanent water, surrounded with reeds, and with myal groves along its banks. The open box forest to the westward of this creek made me believe that I could proceed on a westerly course; but after a few miles travelling we were checked by scrub, which pushed us to the south-east, until we came back to the creek we had left; we followed it down for a few miles and encamped in latitude 26.39. The country to the left was still open, but to the right bricklow scrub approached, very nearly the banks of the creek. The waterholes, though well provided with water were all boggy and our mules went rather without water than expose themselves to the danger of being bogged. The creek turned to the south-east and east-south-east. In travelling to the westward we soon entered into a dense bricklow scrub, which continued for nine miles, when the country again opened into fine box ridges and undulations. We followed a small creek, well provided with waterholes, for about four miles to the westward, when it turned to the southward, and having crossed a ridge we came to another creek of the same character, running N. and S. on which we camped, in latitude 26.43, having made about thirteen miles W.S.W. from our last camp. One and a half miles to the westward of this creek we met another small creek, and four miles farther we crossed a large creek with high flood marks, and with high box ridges, particularly on its right banks. I am inclined to believe that the open box country of the four last mentioned creeks extends in an easterly direction round the scrub we had crossed to the first box creek, and in a southerly direction to a large creek or river, which is formed by the combined Dogwood Creek and Bottle-tree Creek. Soon after having crossed the largest of those creeks, which we called "Emu Creeks," in consequence of numerous tracks of emus on the young grass, we entered into bricklow scrub, which became so dense, that after five miles scrubbing we were glad to follow a very winding watercourse to the S.E.; it enlarged into a chain of large deep water-holes, which seemed to be the constant resort of numerous natives, who had constructed their bark gunyas at most of them. Having followed it down for six or seven miles we encamped in latitude 26.48. This creek continues for ten miles S.S.E. before it meets Dogwood Creek. It becomes rocky; the country opens; but the ground is rotten, and timbered with cypress pine, forest oak, and apple tree, which is here anything but the indication of a good country. The scrub ceases about two and a half miles above the junction. Here we turned to the westward, and travelled three miles, when we came to the deep channel of a large creek, with flood marks above the banks; the latter wore frequently formed by perpendicular rocks; the bed was sandy, and rather boggy, in consequence of the slight stream of water which was filtering through the sands. A small narrow-leaved tea-tree was growing along the water's edge. Cypress pine and white gum formed a tolerably open forest; we camped on the right bank of this creek, in latitude 26.55. Mr. Bunce, and my blackfellow, who had gone to shoot ducks, did not come up to our camp that night, nor the next morning, and fearing that some accident had happened, I returned to the winding creek we had left. The following morning the absentees joined us, and explained their absence, by having come on the fresh tracks of another party, which they followed until they observed the want of mules' tracks, which induced them to return to the place where they had left us. They had seen a great number of natives, amongst whom they recognized a blackfellow and his gin, by a white spot which the latter had on her neck. These two had visited us in our camp at Charley's Creek, when starring for Peak Range. At that time many natives from the Balonne passed Charley's Creek to go to the Bunya Bunya. We now travelled down the little creek to its junction with Dogwood Creek, and followed the latter for one and a half miles, where the large sandy creek joined it. Below this junction Dogwood Creek increases very much in size, and the high flood-marks on the box trees that cover the flats indicate the large body of water which sweeps down its channel during the rainy season. We continued on our westerly course and left the river, which takes a turn to the southward; but bricklow scrub and sandstone gullies compelled us to south a little and we encamped on a small scrubby creek, about ten miles W. by S. from the junction of Sandy Creek. For the next eleven miles to the westward we travelled over a scrubby myal country, with patches of open puffy ironbark forest and of cypress pine. At this stage we saw a conspicuous hill to the southward. We came to a river from the northward, with high but irregular bunks, lined with large water gum; its bed was sandy, containing pebbles of fossil wood, broken pieces of agate, and variously coloured flint and quartz; it was overgrown with tea-tree and was well provided with water holes. Judging from its size its course could not be less than 180 miles, and the presence of the fossil Wood and of agate made us believe that, it came from a downs country. I was inclined to think, that it was my Robinson's Creek, which I had crossed in latitude 25.30, about ninety miles above our present crossing place. The country along its banks was closely timbered with box and box saplings. Here we saw the tracks of five horses coming from tho westward and apparently passing down the river. Fourteen miles to the west of this river which we distinguished by the name of "Horsetrack River," we came to a large creek trending to the S.E. the intervening country is generally scrubby; occasional patches of open forest are very puffy. In this puffy ground, near clusters of cypress pine, we observed the deep burrows of a probably unknown animal. The entrance is a large hole, four or five feet deep, from the bottom of which the burrow passes horizontally under ground. It was about one and a-half foot in diameter, and would indicate an animal of the size of the beaver. Its tracks resembled those of a child two or three years old, according to the observations of my companions; its dung resembled that of the kangaroo, and indicated a herbivorous animal. The creek was lined with water-gum and tea-tree, and was well provided with large reedy water-holes. My companions called it "the Yahoo River," which name I shall adopt to distinguish it from the other creeks. At night, when we were sitting round our fire, we heard a loud shrill "pish-sh-sh," the disagreeable call of a night bird; Wommai, my black-fellow, watched it and succeeded in shooting it. It proved to be a beautiful little owl, a species of cyclops. Ten miles west of the Yahoo, we crossed another large creek, with large reedy water-holes in its sandy bed. The intervening country is covered with a nasty cypress pine and dodonea scrub. When seen from the westward of the large creek, which I shall call "Frederick's Creek," it appears in form of a low range. The approaches from the eastward of the creek are fine and open. We continued our course to the westward for ten miles over sandy ridges, covered with most wretched cypress pine scrub, and came to a large creek with reedy waterholes and sandy bed, which I shall call "Bunce's Creek." Its direction was from N.W. to S.E. The slopes towards the creek were openly timbered with box; beyond it we saw a long range extending from N. to S.; we crossed it in latitude 26.59. Scarcely two miles to the westward we came to sandstone ridges which were covered with scrub composed of cypress pine, dodonea, and bricklow, and which extended fully ten miles to the westward. Here another species of acacia akin to the bricklow formed a scrub worse than any we had yet met; dead timber made the road extremely circuitous, and the progress slow, and as it was frequently overgrown with thick underwood composed of various interesting aromatic shrubs it became dangerous for our mules and horses to pass through it. Being tired of an apparently never-ceasing succession of these acacia ridges, we followed a water-course W. 30 S. for about three or four miles, when we found a good supply of water in a rocky waterhole. Shortly after having encamped, three natives walked boldly up to us, after having cooeed and having received our cooee in return; Mr. Isaacs and myself met them about fifty yards from our camp to ascertain if possible whether we were near the Colgoon, which we expected soon to see—however they did not understand us, but parted good friends, after having received three brass buttons each; there was no doubt that they had seen white men before. In coming down the little creek we had seen a fine plain to the eastward, and when we left it and travelled to the westward we passed over very fine open box ridges. Six miles from the little creek, and about twenty miles W. of Bunce's Creek, we came to a little river, with a deep but dry bed, though with some ponds full of water parallel to it. The country continued open for about three miles to the westward of it, but at that distance a very scrubby mountainous country commenced; this river was the Colgoon, we expected it, but not finding Sir Thomas Mitchell's track, I supposed I was out in my reckoning and determined to push on to the westward until we came to the track. We passed for seven miles over the scrubby mountains and were surprised to come to a large creek which went to the northward, we camped on this creek in latitude 27' and followed it for about four miles to the northward; it preserved its mountainous character and we consequently left it to continue to the westward. We travelled for sixteen miles over a succession of acacia ridges, and creeks, which turned all to the N.E. and E.N.E. to join the North Creek, and some of these creek had patches of very fine box and myal country. At that distance we met a water-course going S.S.W., which we followed for about ten miles before we came to water, and that only after having camped a night without it. From a fine rocky waterhole of this little creek we travelled about two miles to the westward, when we found ourselves on Sir Thomas Mitchell's returning tracks, and Mr. Kennedy's three cart tracks outward bound. About five miles to the northward we came to camp 80, and cammed on a little creek with good water-holes, in lat. 26.53. We continued to follow the tracks of Kennedy to lat. 26.35 passed his camp 79; examined the country along a small creek joining the river at that camp; returned on our tracks to the place where we first had met Sir Thomas Mitchell's tracks, and followed them down to lat. 27.30, passing his camp 81. Between these two camps, which are very nearly 40 miles distant from each other, we had to camp without water, and Mr. Kennedy seems to have shared the some fate, for we saw that he had tried to obtain it by digging in the sandy bed of the creek. After having seen sixty miles of Sir Thomas Mitchell's track, and finding that the country did not agree with his description of Fitz Roy Downs, we concluded that we were on the Maranoa, and that the little river we had crossed was really the Colgoon.
We now returned to the eastward, to make the Balonne, to trace this river up to the junction of Dogwood Creek and the Condamine, and to ascertain where those various creeks I and rivers we had crossed joined the main stream. We travelled, for eighteen miles through a thick bricklow scrub, with a few interruptions of open ground, and came at that distance from the Maranoa to a chain of fine large ponds. About three miles farther we found the Balonne. All the' hollows, the flats, the gullies along the river, had been covered with water, and the floodmarks were visible full five feet above its highest banks. Its course was from N.E. by N. to S.W. by S. We passed the junction of a deep creek or gully, and camped in latitude 27.24, in tolerably open country. About three miles to the northward we saw Sir Thomas's tracks, leaving the river, but they were generally very faint. In lat. 27.18 (appr.) a large creek joined the Balonne, and we supposed that this was the Colgoon; it was gently running, according to Mr. Isaacs. The country below the junction of this creek is open, and by far the best we have seen along the right bank of the river' Above the Colgoon it is generally closely wooded, with some open patches, but the latter are generally puny. From the junction of the Colgoon to the junction of Sandy Creek the Balonne runs from E.N.E.-W.S.W., with wide bends to the southward. Our second camp from the Balonne was in latitude 27.17. About twenty-four miles from the junction of the Colgoon, up the river, another large creek joins it. It comes from N. 35 E., and corresponds to Bunce's Creek and Frederick's Creek, which very probably join before meeting the Balonne. Six miles below and two miles above this creek we saw trees marked with an H. Sixteen miles from this creek a third large creek joins the Balonne; this we supposed to be the Yahoo; twelve miles above this we passed the junction of tho Horsetrack River, and,25-30 miles higher we were again at the junction of Sandy Creek. Between these two rivers, about eight to ten miles below Sandy Creek, Mr. Bunce and Wommai had observed the junction of a large creek from the left side, and I suppose that this is the Condamine, which has been followed down by Mr. Coxen and, Pinnock, and by Mr. O'Connor, to its junction with Dogwood Creek. We followed Dogwood Creek up to lat. 26.56, crossed it, and travelled about eleven miles E. by N., when we came again on one of its bends to the southward in lat. 26.53. Here we found a fine open box country, but with veins of puffy ground. In continuing the course E. by N. we passed over some very fine country and came to the Condamine on a very remarkable bend, below which we found the letter B. Three miles higher up the river we camped in 26.49. We travelled about nine miles east when we came again to the river, which had made a large bend to the northward; we crossed it, continued about seven miles to the eastward, and approached the river a second time. We had just encamped, when my blackfellow heard the neighing of a horse; a gun was immediately fired, which was answered by the crack of a stock whip, and shortly afterwards Mr. Ewer came up to us, and gave us the agreeable intelligence that we were near his station. We had seen numerous cattle tracks several miles below the place, and were sure that a station was close at hand.
On my return to Sydney Captain Perry kindly permitted me the inspection of Sir Thomas Mitchell's map. I find that my suppositions have been correct. His Fitz Roy Downs commence about ten-fifteen miles above the place where we crossed the Colgoon. He could not have Been the River Balonne to the east of his Grafton Range, when he was standing on Mount Abundance; it was very probably Bunce's Creek, I am inclined to believe that similar patches of open country exist on the heads of Bunce's Creek, Frederick's Creek, Yahoo River, Horse-track River, and perhaps even of Sandy Creek, but I do not think that they form an uninterrupted belt of downs above the scrubs of their lower course. A dray road will be found practicable in the dry season from Mitchell's track along the Balonne and the Condamine (which is one of its principal heads), to Mr. Ewer's station and Darling Downs. Should stations be formed on the heads of these various creeks the respective roads will have to follow down the creek, and join the main road along the Balonne, which will be rendered extremely circuitous, and difficult by numerous gullies, back-waters, and deep creeks, which join that river. The stations will become very isolated in consequence of those broad belts of scrubby country intervening between the creeks. The natives appear to form powerful tribes along the Balonne and its numerous lagoons, and would be dangerous enemies along the scrubs, which would allow them a secure retreat from their aggressions. Considering the long and precarious land carriage, and the high rate of wages, particularly in so remote stations, I do not believe that sheep-farming will pay even as far as the Horse-track River. Cattle stations might be formed perhaps even as far as Maranoa, which at camp 80 of Sir Thomas would be very eligible for the purpose. But the road from that camp to Maitland will in all probability be found shorter than that to Moreton Bay. I shall add a few distances, but I beg to remark that my distances from Mr. Ewer's station down the Condamine and the Balonne are estimated as straight lines, which, in a dray-road might be occasionally doubled. The distance from Brisbane to the Wool-shed is about 150 miles, from the Wool-shed to Mr. Ewer's 46 miles, from Mr. Ewer's to the B at the horse-shoe bend of the Condamine about 23 miles, from the B to Sandy River 28 miles, from the Sandy River to Horsetrack River 25-30 miles, from the Horsetrack River to the Yahoo River about 12 miles, from the Yahoo River to Frederick Creek and the H about 16 miles, from the Frederick's Creek to the junction of the Colgoon 24 miles, from the junction of the Colgoon up to Fitz Roy Downs, between 40-50 miles. The distance from Brisbane to the junction of the Colgoon with the Balonne would be, according to this estimate, 332 miles; but the dray-road will prove to he, at least, 400 miles.
It is to be expected that creeks, corresponding to those from the northward, will join the Balonne from the south and south-east, taking their rise in the Mackentire Ranges; and I have heard that Mr. O'Connor has already succeeded in finding a fine run on one of them.
Should the country of Peak Range be settled upon, Sir Thomas Mitchell's track will no doubt form the road on which stock will move up to the latitude of that locality, and will then turn to the eastward; my track is too mountainous and scrubby for a dray-road, and I myself shall very probably choose Sir Thomas's track on my next starting to the westward.
In judging the country I have seen, I have availed myself of the experience of Mr. Frederick Isaacs, who has such a large share in the exploration of Darling Downs and its confines. I shall take this opportunity of giving my best thanks to him, to Mr. Bunce, and to Mr. Perry, for their kind assistance in this expedition. I am personally obliged to Mr. Bunce for a fine collection of seeds and plants, which he made, not only on this occasion, but on my journey to Peak Range. Mr. Boecking, another of my companions to Peak Range, though most willing to accompany me to the Colgoon, had been compelled to return from the Wool-shed in consequence of an attack of fever; I feel bound to recommend him, as well as Mr. Perry, to every one who should wish to employ them, for their unimpeachable moral conduct, for their unceasing activity and intelligence; and though they, as well as Mr. Bunce, are inclined to share my fate again on my next expedition, and though I should be happy to have the company of men who have stood the trial, I should be sorry for their joining me if better prospects were open to them.
In the extract of my letter published in the Sydney Morning Herald, it is stated that Sir Thomas crossed my track at Expedition Range; this is a mistake, he crossed Expedition Range to the westward of my track.
I shall annex here a series of observations on the elevation of various points along the road from Port Stephens to Peak Range. They are made with the boiling-water apparatus which the Rev. W. B. Clarke had the kindness to lend me on this expedition:
|Mr. Thomas Rusden's station, in New England||3127||"|
|Mr. Macdonald's, at Falconer Plains||4386||"|
|Mr. Marsh's station, at Maryland||2907||"|
|Mr. Bracker's, at Canning Downs||1184||"|
|Mr. Hodgson's, Darling Downs||1573||"|
|Mr. Bell's, at the Wool-shed||1086||"|
|The head of the Dawson||1461||"|
|The Robinson, near tho head of Palmtree Creek||1028||"|
|A tributary creek of the Upper Boyd||1648||"|
|Ruined Castle Creek||1746||"|
|Upper part of Zamia Creek||1406||"|
|Lagoons, W. by S. from Mount Nicholson||897||"|
|Erythrina Camp, at tho foot of Expedition Range||914||"|
|The scrub at the N.W. side of Expedition Range||1048||"|
|The junction of Comet River and the Mackenzie||787||"|
Peak Downs, about 12 miles S.S.E. of Scott's and Roger' Peak
In travelling from the junction of the Comet River with the Mackenzie to Peak Range I followed the Mackenzie up to one of its heads and ascertained that the waters which drain from Peak Range to the S. and S.W., collected into the channel of that river; those to the N.W. and W. very probably belong to the system of the Belyando of Mitchell, or of my Cape. On the upper part of the Mackenzie, which is well watered, we passed over large plains and downs of the existence of which I had not been aware. They extend about sixty miles from S.S.E. to N.N.W. and are frequently six to eight miles broad, they are however hemmed in by scrubby country to the west, to the south, and to the east.
In concluding these remarks I shall add the agreeable intelligence that five of tho seven mules which I lost at Peak Range have made their appearance at Darling Downs, after having travelled six hundred miles by themselves, and have been duly secured by the stockmen of Mr. Gogg and young Mr. Headley, to whom I feel deeply obliged for their exertions.
Sketch Map of the Balonne River
and Country He had ridden over
done at Cecil Plains, August 1847
by Ludwig Leichhardt
and given to me [Henry Stuart Russell].
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