Category: Edward John Eyre - Vol 1 - Ch 14
Written by Edward John Eyre
January 17. — Spent the day in writing, and in meditating upon my future plans and prospects. I had now been forty-five miles beyond the head of the Great Bight, that point to which I had looked with interest and hope; now, I had ascertained that no improvement took place there, in the appearance or character of the country, but, if any thing, that it became less inviting, and more arid. The account of the natives fully satisfied me that there was no possibility of getting inland, and my own experience told me that I could never hope to take a loaded dray through the dreadful country I had already traversed on horseback. What then was I to do? or how proceed for the future? The following brief abstract of the labours of the party, and the work performed by the horses in the three attempts made to get round the head of the Great Bight, may perhaps seem incredible to those who know nothing of the difficulty of forcing a passage through such a country as we were in, and amidst all the disadvantages we were under, from the season of the year and other causes.
ABSTRACT OF LABOURS OF The Party IN ROUNDING The GREAT BIGHT.
Names. Distances ridden. No. of days employed. Mr Eyre 643 miles 40 Mr. Scott 50 miles 4 The Overseer 230 miles 22 Costelow 22 Houston 12 Corporal Coles 8 Eldest native boy 270 miles 19 Youngest native boy 395 miles 23
A dray loaded with water was drawn backwards and forwards 238 miles; many of the horses, in addition to the distances they were ridden, or worked in the dray, were driven loose, in going or returning, for about eighty miles. Most of the party walked considerable distances in addition to those ridden. All the party were engaged, more or less, in connection with the three attempts to round the Bight, as were also all the horses, and of the latter, three perished from over fatigue and want of water. Yet, after all, the distance examined did not exceed 135 miles, and might have been done easily in ten days, and without any loss, had the situation of the watering places, or the nature of the country, been previously known.
None but a person who has been similarly circumstanced, can at all conceive the incessant toil and harassing anxiety of the explorer; when baffled and defeated, he has to traverse over and over again the same dreary wastes, gaining but a few miles of ground at each fresh attempt, whilst each renewal of the effort but exhausts still more the strength and condition of his animals, or the energy and spirits of his men.
Upon maturely considering our circumstances and position, I decided to attempt to force a passage round the Great Bight, with pack-horses only, sending, upon the return of the cutter, all our heavy stores and drays in her to Cape Arid, if I found, upon her arrival, the instructions I might receive, would justify me in taking her so far beyond the boundaries of South Australia. This was the only plan that appeared to me at all feasible, and I determined to adopt it as soon as our horses were sufficiently recruited to commence their labours again.