config

March 29. — After calling up the party, I ascended the highest sand-hill near me, from which the prospect was cheerless and gloomy, and the point and sandy cones we imagined we had seen last night had vanished. Indeed, upon examining the chart, and considering that as yet we had advanced only one hundred and twenty-six miles from the last water, I felt convinced that we had still very far to go before we could expect to reach the sand-drifts. The supply of water we had brought for ourselves was nearly exhausted, and we could afford none for breakfast to-day; the night, however, had been cool, and we did not feel the want of it so much. Upon moving, I sent one of the natives back to the horse I had tied up, about four miles from our camp to try to bring him on to where we should halt in the middle of the day.

For ten miles we continued along the beach until we came to a bluff rocky ridge, running close into the sea; here we rested until the tide fell, and to give the native boy an opportunity of rejoining us, which he did soon after, but without the horse; the poor animal had travelled about eight miles with him from the place where we had left him, but had then been unable to come any further, and he abandoned him.

Whilst the party were in camp, I sent the overseer to a distant point of land to try and get a view of the coast beyond; but upon his return, after a long walk, he told me his view to the west was obstructed by a point similar to the one I had sent him to. During the day, we had passed a rather recent native encampment, where were left some vessels of bark for holding water, or for collecting it from the roots of trees, or the grass. Near where we halted in the middle of the day, the foot-prints of the natives were quite fresh, and shewed that they were travelling the same way as ourselves.

For the last two or three days, we had passed many pieces of wreck upon the beach, oars, thwarts of boats, fragments of masts, spars, etc. strewed about in every direction; none of them, however, appeared to have been recently deposited there, and many of the oars, and lighter spars, were stuck up on their ends in the sand above high water mark, probably so placed by the natives, but with what object I know not. One oar was stuck up upon a high sand ridge, some distance from the shore, and I spent some time in examining the place, in the vain hope that it might be an indication of our vicinity to water.

In the afternoon we all had a little tea; and after a bathe in the sea, again moved onwards; fortunately the beach was firm and hard, and the evening cool; the horses advanced slowly and steadily, and in a way that quite surprised me. After travelling for thirteen miles, we encamped under the coast ridge late in the evening, all very much exhausted, having made several ineffectual searches for water, among the sandy ridges, as we passed along.

In our route along the shore, we had seen immense numbers of fish in the shallow waters, and among the reefs lying off the coast; several dead ones had been picked up, and of these the boys made a feast at night. Our last drop of water was consumed this evening, and we then all lay down to rest, after turning the horses behind the first ridge of the coast, as we could find no grass; and neither the overseer nor I were able to watch them, being both too much worn out with the labours of the day, and our exertions, in searching for water.